I have always loved the excitement of Valentine’s Day, even though I so rarely celebrate it as part of a couple. Ever since I was little and making heart-shaped doily Valentines with red glittery heart-shaped stickers, I have loved the idea of taking a day to celebrate the people I love.
It’s funny how Valentine’s Day stops being about that as you grow up. When I was in third grade, my mom made me give Valentines to every student in the class. I did save the best ones for my best friends, and attach the best piece of candy to their cards, but everyone got one, even that boy who picked his nose in class.
In high school, we had a carnation fundraiser on Valentine’s Day. Those pretty cellophane wrapped carnations were delivered to your dorm room during study hall, and as they went out, you basically counted and compared how many each person had in their pile. I got them from my friends my first year, but by the second year, everyone was done with that game. Each time a carnation was delivered to my next door neighbor instead of to me, I felt my heart sink a little bit.
There’s a lot out there that aims to defeat our spirits, and as you look around on Valentine’s Day, there are a lot of defeated people.
It’s a struggle to celebrate without placing too much pressure on the day. When we place too much emphasis on things that were never meant to carry that much power, we face defeat. In our celebrating, we seem to always be walking that fine line between protecting ourselves by holding back, and showing how much we care by lavishing on the gifts and affection. The Today Show this morning even offered the advice that it was better to give a small trinket than a big gift in a new relationship. Cautioning us that gifts have power to make or break our relationships. If so, we are measuring the wrong kind of love on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day, for me, will be about experiencing love and letting it shine. The same kind of love that we were able to celebrate and share as children with our paper hearts. It is just as difficult to receive that love as it is to share it. You have to believe that you are truly, deeply loved before you can pass that kind of love around. No matter your story, no matter your relationship status, you are truly, deeply loved by a God who out-gifts us all.
Remembering that, knowing that to be true, and believing that you are loved levels the playing field. It’s so refreshing to know that it’s not about us at all. We were measuring the wrong kind of love, a love that suddenly seems so petty and meager compared to this stronger, infinite, perfect love. The door is opened to loving the way we used to as kids. So celebrate. Wear heart-shaped stickers with terrible candy heart slogans on them. Give, but let go of the analysis and comparisons and the heart-sinking feelings. Just love.
If you have read any of my blog posts, you know that I’m crazy about Conor Grennan’s book, Little Princes. Liz and Conor’s story has really inspired me for the past several years, and it’s amazing that it has gone public with the publishing of Conor’s book, so all of you can share in the joy of their story. Here’s a bit of their Valentine’s story. But if you hear Liz tell it her way, you’ll know that she trusts and rests in the God above who out-gifts us all (her phrase, by the way). That’s what makes this story so great. That is why it works out to be so real and so true. It wasn’t manufactured by them, or Russell Stover, at all.
Love to you all! Happy Valentine’s Day.
Interview with Liz and Conor in Avon Romance:
Little Princes: Conor Grennan and His Wife Liz Talk About Their Time in Nepal Avon Romance
Conor’s Valentine’s Day article for Liz:
Conor Grennan: Following My Passion Found Me a Partner