It’s Valentine’s Day but…not everyone is happy about that. In fact, I’ve heard some countries actually ban Valentine’s Day. But wouldn’t it be nice to add a little more love into our families and our communities? After all, “love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it” (Dr. Karl Menninger). Our families and communities are definitely in need of healing.
Valentine’s Day is a day to remind ourselves that love is a great gift to give our spouse, our children, our parents…and our friends and neighbors. As Victor Hugo said, “the greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” And the knowledge that somebody loves us allows us to know our true selves and our true beauty. “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being” (John Joseph Powell). In other words, the gift of love allows us to become the best version of ourselves…even if we start off a bit like a beast. That is “the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable” (G. K. Chesterton). Love your family.
Some fear love. Maybe they’ve been hurt, or they fear losing their sense of freedom by putting on the “old ball and chain.” But “if we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation” (Madeleine L’Engle). Likewise, “love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning” (Esther Perel). Security, adventure, freedom, and true knowledge of self and other…they’re all wrapped up in love. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Something to celebrate and share on Valentine’s Day.
“Oh, [and] how a quiet love can drown out every fear” (Jessica Katoff). “…Perfect love casts out fear” (Peter, the apostle of Christ). Why? Because fear involves punishment. Fear involves betrayal. Fear involves hurt. But love casts all that out. Love heals. Love cherishes. Love builds up. Love provides a safe haven and secure port. Love lets us rest “naked and unafraid” in the arms of another. That’s a great Valentine’s Day gift.
But don’t get me wrong. Love does demand something of the one who love. It demands action. Love is a verb, not a noun. “Love doesn’t sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all of the time, made new” (Ursula K. Leguin). We have to invest in love with a curiosity to know the other person, a desire to serve the other person, and a willingness to sacrifice for their benefit. Will you invest in love? When you do, you’ll know why I love to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day.