“We are made for love -- and in vain we strive to pour forth the streams of our affection by the narrow channels which the world can give -- and well is it if, stagnated in our hearts, they turn not to bitterness.”
-George MacDonaldOf the 29 Valentine's Days I have witnessed in my life, I have had a boyfriend for only two of them. He was a very good boyfriend, thrilling me with roses and dinners and shy proclamations of affection. However, I loved Valentine's Day long before he came along, and I have continued to love it in the years since.
For many single men and women, Valentine's Day can feel like an insult, as if all the greeting-card companies and jewelry commercials have conspired to exclude them from a shimmering holiday. If I wished to criticize Valentine's Day, I would start with George MacDonald, and point out that popular concepts of romance tend to offer a few channels for our love. We long to love someone, but if we don't have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, who will receive our love? And who will return it? So much of the bitterness I hear regarding Valentine's Day reeks of the stagnation MacDonald describes, and of jealousy for those who are blissfully floating down the narrow channels of romance.
As Christians, we ought to be excavating deep and wide channels where all men and women can pour out the love they were made to give. I'm thankful for the many ways my parents and friends have done this. For example, from first grade through my senior year of high school, my father would take me out to lunch each Valentine's Day. Leaving school for an hour, eating at a restaurant, and having my father's undivided attention made the day special long before I cared about the holiday's romantic possibilities. As an adult, I have done my best to use Valentine's Day to celebrate all the people I love. Some years that means giving homemade caramels to everyone in my office. Sometimes it means piles of handmade envelopes and cards. This year it meant stitching little hearts for a few of my most faithful correspondents.
However you celebrate Valentine's Day, pray that your festivities will challenge the world's narrow picture of love. If you are happily married or dating, delight yourself in that romance, but consider also sending a card (or better yet, flowers) to a friend who is single. If you are single, defy bitterness and pour your heart into those you love: mothers, children, colleagues, friends.
How will you celebrate Valentine's Day this year?
|A few of the tokens I made for Valentine's Day this year.|