Valentine’s Day may be one of the most dreaded holidays for the divorced and separated, maybe more so for Christians who understand the meaning of Valentine’s Day and what Saint Valentine, a man who strove to bring Love to the world, would have wanted his special day to mean.
Today we associate Valentine’s Day with cards and candy hearts, bouquets and lingerie. We say we celebrate the Love we have for a significant other by giving them overpriced, obligatory flowers and oversized teddy bears advertised with sexual innuendoes and thinly veiled promises of what a man will get in return.
To make matters worse, when you don’t have a special person in your life, Valentine’s Day can make you feel worth less or find you searching internet dating sites and settling mistaking Mr. Right Now for Mr. Right rather than choosing to be alone on another Valentine’s Day.
That’s because we know Love is everything, the greatest of all is Love.
Without Love You Are Nothing Especially on Valentine’s Day!
Even the Bible tells us Love is everything. In Sunday’s second reading, Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, we see Love. Is. Everything. Without Love we gain nothing. Without Love we are nothing!
Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Apply that passage to Valentine’s Day, to modern society, and to a departing spouse.
Catholic-Christians know perfect, eternal Love is possible only through God. We know each of us fails to Love in some way or another at some time or another, often many times throughout a lifetime.
I fail to Love many times each day when I cut off a driver because I’m in a rush, when I don’t give my children my full attention, when I put off that phone call to my Mom, when I… The list goes on and on.
Often we fail to act in Love and excuse it or refuse to acknowledge it.
I was in a rush…I had to cut in front of that slow driver. My kids told me the same story yesterday…I really had to get this done! So what if I didn’t call my Mom today…I’ll just call her tomorrow. It’s not like she’s going anywhere!
So many ways I fail to act in Love each and every day.
So many times I don’t even notice my failings because they’re so much a part of me.
So many times society would say I’m being too hard on myself or that everyone does it or something else to make me feel better.
But those band-aids that make us feel better for a moment don’t provide a cure. Only acting in Love provides a cure. Only leaving the house a few minutes earlier so I don’t cut off that driver, only focusing in on my children so they know they are Loved, only making that phone call to my Mom without asking her for a favor tells her how appreciated she is.
The thing about Love is that none of those actions rely on what another person does for me.
Sure, my children give me Joy in ways I never thought possible. Sure, my Mom helps me out more than any other person has ever done. But that driver in the other car? I don’t even know him. Why do I offer him anything, much less Love?
The Difference Between Being Loved & Having Love
It goes back to two lines seen in the reading above…
If I…do not have love, I am nothing.
If I …do not have love, I gain nothing.
See that? Too often we mistake being loved and having Love to be the same thing. Our self-worth, especially around Valentine’s Day, gets caught up in having a special someone to celebrate with, but the Bible doesn’t tell you if you are loved you are something. It says if you have Love.
When a spouse walks out, when a Marriage crumbles, and when one chooses to break a Family apart, he chooses not to have Love for his spouse, for his children, for his God. Because of this, the abandoned spouse feels worthless, not good enough, unloved.
She feels like she is nothing, not because she does not have love, but because she is not loved.
But all Marriages have ups and downs, spouses who act badly (not abusively, but badly) from time to time, and rocky patches that can last years on end, but some Marriages have two spouses who choose to never give up, who choose to Love one more day and one more day and one more day after that forever. Their Love is not reliant on what the other spouse does.
A spouse who chooses to this has Love. They have Love inside them despite what the other person does, and whether their Love is ever returned or not, they will gain much. Despite the rocky patches, those who have Love will reach the summit.
Those who walk out on a Marriage once are more likely to walk out on what they perceive as love again and again and again because they don’t have Love. They are seeking to be loved more than to have Love. Seeking to be Loved is part of being human and it is a Good thing – unless it interferes with having Love!
It is not in being loved that we gain worth, but in having Love.
The spouse who strays demonstrates a lack of Love. He mistakenly thinks his Love has transferred to another, but he has put himself above others. He has shown he has little to no Love inside of him for his wife, for his children, for his God. How much less will he have for a stranger driving down the street or even for himself at the end of his days?
We mistakenly look at our former spouses and those who have someone to be with on Valentine’s Day and think everything must be rosy for them! We judge the empty place by our sides and feel unLoved, but this is not true.
The spouse who never gives up demonstrates Love. He has Love and this Love is everything!
This spouse shows he has Love even when unloved!
How many people can claim that?
What an accomplishment that is!
This Valentine’s Day, don’t fall for the modern version of a valentine. Don’t fall for a cheap substitute for Love. You have Love inside you. Without having Love you are nothing. Grow the Love you have through prayer, through silence, through reaching out to your children, to your Mom, to the driver on the street, to your neighbor, to the stranger who you don’t know and will probably never meet again.
And then do the impossible. Use the Love in your heart for those who have no love, for political leaders who enable or promote a culture of death, for the cranky neighbor who yells at your children when balls go on his lawn, for the woman who cut you off in her rushed commute to work this morning.
And for your departed spouse.
One Final Thought About Being Loved & Having Love on Valentine’s Day
When contemplating the Love you wish you were being given this Valentine’s Day, think about the image I chose for this post. In the heart above, Light shines brightly. The darkness surrounding the heart does not keep the heart from shining. The Light within the heart does not depend on other lights around it. In fact, the Light shines more brightly because it is surrounded by darkness.
It is not in being lit that this heart glows so brightly, but in having Light.
Your Love is the same. Whether you are in a struggling Marriage or completely alone this Valentine’s Day, you have Love inside you. If you are alone in the dark, the Love inside you is not reliant on the Love you get from others. Your Love shines brightly in the dark if you choose to allow it to. Your Love can serve as a beacon to draw others to you and to God’s perfect, eternal Love over time.
It is not in being loved that you glow so brightly, but in having Love.
Don’t mistake your loneliness this Valentine’s Day for not having Love.
You HAVE Love! And by having Love you are everything!
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!
SUBSCRIBE to Single Mom Smiling’s monthly newsletter.