Valentine’s Day bothers me. Not because I’m terminally single, but because it feels cheap. It’s an opportunity for companies to make money by defining love as a transaction. And I’m not upset because people capitalize on our own willingness to sell ourselves for temporary enjoyment of fleeting pleasures…
It upsets me because that’s all people think love is.
Love is not a debt. We don’t owe it to anyone. It can’t be bought. It’s a gift that is freely given… without expectation of getting anything in return.
But who does that these days?
We’re all jaded and only looking out for Number One. That attitude turns “I love you” into “I love you because…” That is conditional love. It’s why we see more divorce in this generation than ever before. I love you because you make me happy. I love you because you are beautiful. I love you because you make me feel safe… But once the conditions are no longer fulfilled, we decide we’re not in love anymore and are free to walk away.
The real problem is that we are trying to find fulfillment in another person. We all have deficits in our lives, holes that have been created by our past experiences that we desperately try to fill so that we can feel at peace. Peace meaning nothing is broken and nothing is missing. So we go to the junk pile of human solutions to try and complete ourselves. Ultimately, you can find something that will tide you over for a while, but it’s never enough and it never lasts. We seem to have a stupid cycle of settling for a while, then searching for the next thing as soon as we can’t stand settling any more. Like we believe that if we just wait long enough, that the love story from the movies will be played out in our own lives.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? The devil always plays the same trick on us… making us believe that we’re missing something… when we’ve had all we needed from the very beginning… And we buy it every time…
In this generation, people think of God and they think He’s all about rules and regulations… No drinking and partying, no sex until you’re married… and it has to be with the same person for the rest of your life! (gasp! the horror…the horror… (heart of darkness reference! +10 points from my 12th grade English teacher!))
But it’s funny that Jesus boiled down all the “rules” into two commandments in Mark 12:30-31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
And it’s also funny that God boiled down the sins of the world into two wrongs in Jeremiah 2:13
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
God is love. He loved us first so that we might love one another. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins… even the sin of forsaking Him. That doesn’t even make sense in my tiny human brain. He told Hosea to marry Gomer (what an unfortunate name) so that He could illustrate how He loves His people, though they continue to whore themselves out to other gods, false idols that cannot give life, and to show that He would take them back no matter where they have been…
Where have you been? Did you even know that you are dearly loved and cherished by the Creator of the Universe? That there is no price He wouldn’t pay to have you back? And this love is given even without your reciprocation. It’s unconditional, no strings attached, you don’t even have to say “The Sinner’s Prayer” (though if you feel compelled to accept Christ, I highly encourage you to do so.)
So if you are so loved, why would you want the fake candy-coated version that eventually leaves you with wide hips and tear-stained cheeks?
That’s what this blog post is really about… our willingness to pay for a cheap imitation of love, when the real thing is free and waiting for us.
Another thing I feel like God has taught me a lot about His love is the chance to give it out. I work with kids with autism. A lot of people would call my kids “unlovable” because they break every nice thing you buy them, they throw disproportional temper tantrums when they don’t get their way, some kids will never speak or show any sign of affection towards you…
But it’s when I am forced to listen to all the faults of my kids, I start to look at myself… I’ve wasted countless blessings in my life, I complain to God when my “plan” for my life isn’t going the way I think it should, and if I’m really honest… I forget to pray more times than I remember… but God still loves me, even though I don’t deserve it. And it is because He loves me that I am able to give love to those who some would deem “undeserving” of love. And it’s not a love that can ever be repaid or reciprocated… it’s simply given because I have it to give.
So, based off of that knowledge, that is why I think Valentine’s day is cheap. It’s commercialized and done up to make you feel like you HAVE to do something… I’m not saying that you can’t buy your wife flowers or write down all the things you appreciate about your husband… but maybe ask yourself where that love is coming from… is it from a broken well? Or is it from the wellspring of life? Is it Living Water or radioactive water? All I’m saying is that if you need a “holiday” so that you can buy a greeting card with words someone else wrote to express how you feel about your significant other… you might want to check your heart… And if you think buying someone a Vermont Teddy Bear is a good idea… it’s not.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:7-8