Ah, February 14. It stirs up so many emotions... A few years ago when I was a first-year undergraduate, I "observed" by wearing a black shirt to classes. A year or two later, I'd progressed to wearing all black. I turned my computer settings to all black and gray (down to my instant messenger away message). My sister-in-law and brother teamed up to give me an anti-Valentine's day gift--my candy and squishy black pillow nestled safely inside a wedding gift bag from Target that spelled out "I Do" in rhinestones. My quick-witted sister-in-law grabbed a black pen and scribbled "n't" at the end so that my gift bag proudly read, "I Don't!"
Shortly after, I decided that it was better to protest the holiday by ignoring altogether. To prove I was ignoring it, I made sure to wear some random non-boycott but non-Valentine color....orange? Sure! That works! Valentine's Day? Today? Oh, I hadn't noticed...
Let me hasten to say that none of this stemmed from any latent morbidity or dark fascination. It was just fun to go against tradition and roll my eyes at the "schmaltzy, couples-geared, over-commercialized Hallmark holiday."
The past couple of years have been a little different, though. I've encountered a depth in the love of God that I thought I understood--the love I would have told you at the time that I knew I had. In ten years I will probably look back on myself and say the same thing about now. But I learned some things about love that have changed my paradigm a little:
1. God is love, therefore He alone gets to define love. Anyone who tells you that love is less than "arms wide open, heart exposed, bleeding" is peddling a counterfeit version of what love is all about.
2. God's nature is to pursue. There's a whole argument about whether the girl or the guy should have to make the first move (or most of the first moves) in a romantic relationship; without going into that, let me just say that love (God) pursues....and pursues....and pursues...over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Love chases with a bruised and punched face, mocking spit running down its cheeks, blood springing from a broken heart staining its clothes.
3. God gives things just because He loves to give, not because we deserve it and not because it looks or feels good. He doesn't wait for there to be any joy in the idea of loving us. He loves because He can't not love. Love personified is chasing you down.
4. The greatest human expression of love is encountering the scent of God in the secret place and running it to the streets.
And that's my point. We live in a love-starved world of people desperate to hear that they matter to someone. As believers, we epitomize a colossal selfishness when we don't talk about love on Valentine's Day, when we have the greatest love there is.
Don't get me wrong--I will probably always be "that girl" who'd rather throw a random costume party for her single friends (or "non-observing" couple friends) on February 14th weekend. But I'm not making the mistake of ignoring or protesting anymore. The kind of love that has touched me so deeply over the past couple of years is too precious to hoard.
May the love of God be with you all.