by Natalie Ford @tearstojoy
Each year I hear people bemoaning Valentine’s Day (aka Single Awareness Day). Some feel gypped because they don’t have anyone special with whom to celebrate. Others are grieving the loss of their Valentine, either through death or a break up. The sad truth is that for millions of people, Valentine’s Day is a day of great sadness and disappointment.
My question is, “Why?” How did we get to a place where it is not only culturally acceptable but culturally expected to elevate romantic love to a status above all other forms of love? Our current culture teaches that romantic love is to be sought after above all else.
Jesus taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).
The greatest love is not romantic love but God’s love. When we love God with heart, soul, and mind, we can’t help but love those around us. It is the overflow of his great love in us. Jesus said that all of the other rules of the Bible are secondary to loving God and loving others.
What if instead of focusing on our romantic status on Valentine’s Day, we looked for practical ways to show love to others. A widow recently shared with a group of students how tough Valentine’s Day is for her because her husband always spoiled her…my heart hurt at her declaration. To my surprise, not one, not two, but the entire class of students were moved to action. They sought out practical ways to express love to this precious woman on Valentine’s Day.
Can you imagine the difference we could make if we were intentional about blessing others on Valentine’s Day? Who could you bless this February? Is there someone who would be thrilled if you were to visit and sit on the porch, sip sweet tea, and just spend time together? What about the child who feels like no one understands or gets them—what if you gave them a special Valentine’s card to tell them they are special?
I’m not suggesting couples neglect each other, but I am suggesting that instead of being self-focused, we become other-aware. Will you make a commitment today to be a blessing to some unsuspecting person on Valentine’s Day?
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11 NASB
About the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University. She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.
In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.
Join the conversation: What are some ways can you demonstrate love to others this week?