Well, Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re a full-blown, balloons/chocolates/jewelry/fancy dinner Valentine’s Day person, or a we-just-watch-Netflix-and-go-to-sleep Valentine’s Day person, I hope you sense the love of God in Christ today.
Have you ever wondered who this St. Valentine was, and why he’s associated with romantic love, even today? You’re in luck. I looked it up. (It’s what I do.)
There have been three Saint Valentines in Catholic Church history, and all of them were martyred. The one that our current holiday is believed to be named after lived in the 3rd century in Rome. During his era, the ruling emperor, Claudius II, believing that single men made better soldiers, outlawed marriage. Yikes, I know.
St. Valentine, believing that marriage was a gift from God that ought notbe outlawed by any man, started performing weddings in secret. Until one day he was discovered, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by beheading.
The story goes that, as he was awaiting his sentence, he fell in love — with the jailer’s daughter. He would write her love notes as his execution date came closer, and he’d close every letter with the signature:“From, your Valentine”.
So, clearly: asking someone to “Be my Valentine”means “Write me love notes as you await your impending beheading.”
In today’s climate, while none of us will face beheading for our marriage or relationships (I hope), we do face our own set of challenges in practicing and maintaining real, true, deep, profound love.
Today, it’s never been easier to FALL in love. That’s the easy part.Our human nature can be smitten quickly and easily. Plus, there are over 1500 website organizations that help you find “the one”. They take your money, make you a profile, and find you the ‘perfect match’.
While it’s never been easier to FALL in love, it’s also never been harder to STAY in love.
For a few reasons:
- Maybe because of the relationships that we’ve observed.
Very few people have been around a healthy, loving relationship for a long period of time. Most people haven’t, and so they have a faint ideaof what love SHOULD look like, but people mostly just do what they know, even Christians.
Christians know they SHOULD“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but maybe you’ve observed “Do unto others as they do unto you”, or “Do unto others as they deserve to have been done to”or “Do unto others until you get your own way”.
- Maybe because of what we felt growing up.
Child experts several years ago made a list of the 10 things a child needs for a long period of time in order for them to enter adulthood fully equipped for the world and ready for healthy relationships.
Respect, encouragement, comfort, security, support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention and affection.
Yikes! Who can provide all of THAT?? It doesn’t seem humanly possible. So, if we didn’t get these things as kids, what are the odds of us maintaining a healthy relationship today, especially if the one we married didn’t get these things either?
Since we (probably) didn’t get all of these things as kids, that means we enter relationships with a DEFICIT, where we’re SEEKING respect, encouragement, comfort, security, etc. etc.And when our loved one runs out of that provision, all of a sudden we begin to wonder why they don’t seem so cute anymore.
How do we get through this? Is a really loving relationship possible, long-term?
I think yes! Just look at the dozens and dozens of healthy loving marriages in our church alone! It’s possible!
How? Jesus! That’s how.
Like He always does, Jesus has an awesome way of cutting through all of the clutter and unhealth.
He says this in John 13:34: "A new command I give you: love one another."
Jesus does something extraordinary here. He uses the word “love”, and uses it as a verb. An action word. A “do” word.
Normally, love is used as a noun. A thing. Something we “fall” into. Jesus gives us a new way of understanding love, a “new command”. He tells us that love is a verb. He essentially says: “Get up and go love them.”
Healthy Christian marriages start out as “love-is-a-noun” couples, just like everyone else in the world. The rapturous feelings of young love are intoxicating. But the long-term, healthy, dedicated Christian marriage makes the shift at some point, from “love-is-a-noun” to “love-is-a-verb”. They actively SHOW love, even if the feeling isn’t there.
To them, love is a “do” thing. And they’ve practiced it. To be sure, they’ve failed — a lot! But they’re committed to getting better at it, and over time they’ve gotten good at it. The “love-is-a-noun” feeling doesn’t disappear, of course. Their relationship is just not dependent on it. It’s a deeper, more profound, real love!
This Valentine’s Day, whether you celebrate it or not, may all of us - married, single, young, and old - may we grow in making love a verb today!