It’s Valentine’s Day and so it seems the whole world is focused on love. Yesterday in the car I was listing to the radio and heard one of the DJs say that for those in a new relationship (6 months or less) the average couple spends $700 on Valentine’s Day. I don’t believe this to be accurate as I have never known anyone to spend near that much on Valentine’s Day unless they are going to propose. The DJs went on to say the average that a couple spends if you’ve been together 20+ years is $67… perhaps a little more believable, but still a lot of money!
On Wednesday, in preparation of Valentine’s Day, we talked about love at Youth Group. We talked about the things love isn’t- love isn’t blind, it doesn’t ask you to abandon your friends, it doesn’t ask you to compromise your beliefs, it doesn’t demand that you spend tons of money, it doesn’t control you and isn’t jealous, and love doesn’t draw you away from what is good and holy. We also talked about what love is- love is patient, love is kind, loves desires the best for you, and love seeks to guide you to heaven (among other amazing things love is). In addition, we talked about the Sacrament of Marriage and how our love in marriage should imitate the love that God has for His people- for us. This type of love is perhaps the hardest type of love to maintain because it requires active participation on our part.
Love is not simply a feeling that makes us feel good. It’s more than the butterflies we feel inside when that special someone calls or texts. It is more than the glow we have after receiving a kiss. Love is an action word. It asks that we live outside of ourselves, placing others first, and truly desiring what is best for them. To fall in love is easy; to stay in love is where the hard work comes in. Love demands sacrifice and so often we find it next to impossible to sacrifice.
When I think about the commercialization of this day, it makes me sad. We are so wrapped up in making sure that Valentine’s Day is perfect that we miss the everyday acts of love that are even more important.
Not all acts of love are big. In fact, I would venture to say that most acts of true love are small and sometimes go unnoticed- cooking a favorite food, agreeing to watch a movie you don’t want to see, buying a favorite candy as a treat, warming up the car on a cold morning before leaving for work, cleaning the house, working extra hours to help pay the bills, buying flowers not because it is Valentine’s Day but simply because it is Tuesday and you want to make her feel happy, filling the tank with gas, leaving notes of encouragement, listening to complaints and offering advice when needed, and so many other mundane day to day activities that we take for granted. These small acts of love are the glue that holds a marriage together. They help to build a firm foundation- one built on love- that will help you cling to one another when times are tough. The key is to not overlook them or take them for granted.
While most acts of love are the small day-to-day acts that go unnoticed, there are times when love asks us to sacrifice in big ways; in ways we could never have imagined…
I remember vividly 10 years ago when Joseph died and I was in the bed and Mike was in the garage. I felt alone and lost. I wanted Mike to be beside me comforting me. I had no idea what he was doing but I was upset with him for not being with me. It wasn’t long until I discovered what he had been doing. He had painstakingly built the most beautiful casket for our son to be buried in. When he brought it to me I broke down crying. I marveled that he could make something so beautiful, so perfect. It was one of the greatest acts of love he could have ever given me. I can’t imagine the pain he was in as he cut, nailed, and sanded what would be our son’s resting place. And yet, he did this not only for Joseph, but for me.
Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate love and being in love, but don’t forget that love should be celebrated every day. Celebrate the little ways you live out your love for one another- working extra hours, getting up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, giving a back rub when all you want to do is go to sleep, saying you’re sorry when you’ve done wrong and sometimes saying you’re sorry even when you didn’t start an argument, and the million other ways you say I love you. Never forget to recognize that love is in the day-to-day sacrifices for one another and in your desire to help your spouse become the person God calls them to be.
Sometimes love looks like flowers and sometimes love doesn’t look like flowers. Sometimes love looks like a handmade casket loving crafted with wood, nails, and tears.