I know really smart, wise and lovely people who think Valentine's Day is a lousy holiday. "It's pointless," they say. "We should be loving each other well every day, not one day a year." "I want to be the kind of lover that my family and friends don't feel the need for a holiday to celebrate them every year."
These folks have some great points. It seems foolish to compartmentalize our love lives, only going out of our way to treat people with dignity and kindness one day a year. That's not kind or dignifying, anyway.
But I like Valentine's Day. I don't want to do away with it simply because it promotes, on one day of the year, something we ought to be doing all year. If I did that and was consistent, then I'd have to do away with Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, too. I'd like to be characterized as the sort of person who's thankful everyday, and who celebrates the birth and resurrection of Jesus all year. But by golly, I think these holidays are helpful and important.
They can reorient our prone-to-wander hearts. It's easy to forget to be thankful, and it's easy to forget to celebrate the work of Christ on our behalf, and it's easy to forget that the people in our lives are lovable and that we are too. Sometimes we need something built into our calendar to remind us who we are and who God is.
I think this is one of the reasons God commanded the Old Testament Israelites to observe annual religious festivals. These festivals encouraged the Israelites to redirect their eyes to the good work of God in the past. They buoyed their faith in an unseen God and set the Israelites apart from other nations, highlighting their "otherness" as God's chosen people. And while Valentine's Day isn't a God-ordained holiday, it, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, can encourage us to redirect our eyes to the good work and gifts of God in our lives.
The word "holiday" comes from "holy day," a term used to refer to religious holidays. Although not a religious holiday today, Valentine's day has religious roots. It celebrates the life of St. Valentine who exemplified self sacrifice, reminding us of the nature of true love: a choice to put the needs of others before our own — a choice which opens us to true intimacy, and frees us to celebrate each other in community. I'm glad for the reminder.
And boy, did my single guy friends go all out in reminding us girls of our unique, God-given value yesterday.
It all started earlier this week, when they hand-delivered long-stemmed roses and invitations to a formal Valentine's day dinner.
|Our friend Pete, the mastermind behind this dinner|
|We were on our way out to line dance. What a great way to start the night.|
It was the cherry on top of a vanilla week.
Last night, we girls got glammed up and showed up at the boys' house with drinks and dessert. It was a beautiful affair. Candles lit the walkway up to the house and twinkle lights stretched across the fence. The drink table sparkled with crystal goblets, and the banquet table showcased rose and candle centerpieces, gold chargers and more crystal.
Inside, the boys were bustling about, cooking risotto to perfection, roasting asparagus, tossing salad, and putting the finishing touches on chicken marsala. They looked dashing in their fine suits.
As the girls trickled in, we got pictures of our finery. Isn't getting all dressed up fun?! I just wish we had gotten a group picture.
After everyone had arrived, the girls sat at the banquet table while the men served us dinner and passed out blankets to anyone who was cold. They were attentive and quick to meet our needs. They made us feel so special.
Boys, dinner was delicious. You done good. And you're all mighty fine catches.
Our friend Jeremy likes to do something he calls "Words of Affirmation" for which we go around the table, "popcorn" style, highlighting the good and beautiful things we see and are drawn to in each other.
Last night we went around and around, identifying the value we saw in person after person. We must have done it for 1 1/2 hours. It made me so thankful for the Body of Christ — his mouthpiece to speak grace and his hands to serve. Our guys were God's love embodied for a group of single girls who felt as far from lonely as Russia is from Minnesota. Or the north pole is from the south pole. Or the pacific is from the atlantic. Very very NOT lonely.
In fact, as I sat there surrounded by such lovely people, I knew that marriage and a family of my own could not have made me more content. I love those golden moments when the ache of unsatisfied desires is eclipsed by the shining care and loyalty of friends.
After our words of affirmation — which were punctuated with lots of deep belly laughs — we went inside and enjoyed chocolate cake, cookies, and fondue. We danced in the living room, crammed into a dark bathroom to see John's glow-in-the-dark shirt, and generally enjoyed talking the night away.
It was a glorious Valentine's day. A day that reoriented my heart that needed reorienting, and carried on the legacy of St. Valentine, a man whose devotion to Christ impelled him to sacrifice his own needs for the needs of others.
Wuv, twue wuv: it's a grand and glorious thing.
(Name that movie!)
I hope your Valentine's Day had lovely moments, my friends. I hope it reaffirmed your worth in Christ, and reminded you of the unique things you have to offer to the world. And if your day was lonely, aching and hard, I hope you can spend time with Jesus this week, maybe by reading the book of John and noticing how Jesus sought the outcasts, healed the sick, and emptied himself on the cross for us. His love is bottomless and relentless and his power can't be contained, even by the grave.
And now we get to live and really love, because He lives and always loves.
© by scj