Commercialism. We see it so often with approaching holidays. But what's scary is that we often forget it's there... we fall into the trap... Today is Valentine's Day. February 14th. The day of romance and love. But here's the thing... it's really a way for marketing/advertisers to get you to buy a certain product and spend money.
Am I against romance? Absolutely not. I LOVE ROMANCE. Am I anti-love? Heaven forbid. I believe love should be CELEBRATED! But I also believe love should be valued, honored, and respected.
I don't think people most of the time have an accurate view of love or romance. They picture red roses, sparkling champagne and oversized teddy bears. Okay, maybe for some people that really is what makes them feel loved. But sometimes love comes in much more subtle ways.
It's the dandelion picked by my son and presented to me right before we walk into church. It's my husband getting up and taking care of the crying child so I can sleep longer. It's sharing the bag of m&m's with your siblings when they didn't get a treat. It's running upstairs and bringing down Mommy's purse for her. It's electric toothbrushes as Christmas presents. It's the generous heart of a manager who helps provide Christmas for kids beyond anything imaginable. It's a friend sitting next to you in wet grass to comfort you while you weep.
Love is more than red hearts. It's something so much deeper than chocolate. And it should last for more than just one day a year. A friend told me recently that "Valentine's Day is just another day to remind me that I'm single." Are you worthless as an individual if you don't "have someone"?
God reminds us that we are valuable because we belong to Him. We don't need a spouse (or fiancee or boyfriend/girlfriend) to validate us. We are God's children... dearly loved. bought with The Price! The shed blood of Christ. That is what makes us special. We are loved! Wonderfully, passionately, and perfectly loved. The needs for love we have can only be fulfilled in Him. It is a gift when we can experience love from others but only He fully knows and loves us exactly as we are exactly the way we need.
You are not half a person if you're single.
And if you're married go easy on your spouse. Don't expect them to perfectly love and romance you today. So much stock can be put into one day. So much expectation.
My plans for tonight aren't terribly impressive (by worldly standards). I'm taking the kids to Chick-fil-A for dinner (so I don't have to cook for them)... and then i'm fixing made from scratch alfredo over fettuccine with garlic bread for my husband and I (after the kids are in bed). We'll probably watch a Redbox movie and snuggle after another long and exhausting day. But I'm so grateful that I can share the evening with my husband and for his love and care this past decade.
I used to get so hung up and caught up in specific days... be it my birthday, an anniversary or Valentine's, etc. I would have tremendous expectations and hopes and somehow expect that all the laws of science and physics operate differently on those days. No one gets sick. Nothing bad happens. God forbid you get inconvenienced, irritated or disappointed. The day is supposed to be flawless and smooth. And end completely and blissfully happily and satisfied. But it doesn't work that way.
Kids still get the flu. Doctors appointments & root canals still happen. You get caught in the rain without an umbrella. The check bounces. You break your eggs before you get them in the fridge. Your kid cries because a classmate said something unkind. You lose the card that you bought for your spouse. The flowers wilt. Your spouse is too tired to enjoy the overpriced romantic dinner. Plans change. The tire goes flat. You lock yourself out of the car.
I've learned (& AM CONTINUING TO LEARN) that so much of life is about our attitude. We can't always change our circumstances but we can change our attitudes. We can laugh. We can remind ourselves of the good things. We can let go of our expectations. We can accept what we're given and turn it into an adventure.
Love doesn't look like some steamy movie... it's a lot more humble than that. It's putting someone else first. Denying yourself to care for another. It's taking someone else's needs, thoughts and feelings into consideration. It's blessing.
Let's find ways to love and bless our family and friends every day... not just once a year. Start the car so it's warm in the morning on cold days. Light candles for fragrance and ambience. Do a task for someone that they normally do for you (take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, gather the mail). Put their towels in the dryer so it's warm after their bath or shower. Write a note and leave it in their lunchbox, on their pillow, in their back back, on the door, in their purse, on the fridge, above the sink, on the steering wheel, or on the bathroom mirror.
Surprise them with lunch or their favorite coffee. Re-fill (without being asked) the gas tank, the coffee beans, the sugar bowl, bathroom soap, the toilet paper. Text them a compliment during the day. Tell them something you specifically appreciate about them. Load music they'd like on their ipod.
You don't have to spend money to be thoughtful and considerate. Use whatever resources you have available. Extra paper to make cards or funny notes. stickers to embellish lunch boxes. Cut flowers you've grown and share. Use veggies from the garden to make fresh salsa or basil to make pesto.
And don't get bound up in laws and rituals and what you must or must not do. I try to make it fun for the kids. They each have a Valentine waiting for them downstairs... some have chocolate and others have super hero lollypop rings. I even put some wrapped books in a back-back. I love to bless my family with favorite things like muffins for breakfast... I found clearance mickey mouse bowls at Target for their cereal tomorrow.
What do you do to show someone you love them? How is love/romance different than you thought it would be? Did you ever have a day that was all wrong that you redeemed? What is one of your most memorable Valentine's memories or traditions?