Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Valentine's Day Means to Me

Image via Flickr by Illusive Photography
When you think of Valentine's Day, what comes to mind? Is it Cupid and his quiver of arrows? Red roses, boxes of chocolates, heart-shaped jewelry?

These things certainly are associated with Valentine's Day, but to me today is more than just about showing your sweetheart how much you love them. I'd like this day to be about showing everyone how much you love them.

There are many types of love that exist in this world. There's the romantic love you feel for your sweetie, the parental love of a child, familial love of a sibling or parent, and friendly love of a close friend. 

How My Mother-in-Law Shows Love

Image via Flickr by butterflysha
All of us love receiving fun mail—a card, a letter, a package. Something that you can open and enjoy reading rather than just junk mail or bills. This was especially true when I was a kid before the prevalence of computers, the Internet, and cell phones. It was exciting ... especially if there was a present or money inside. 

Since we got married almost 11 years ago, that's not so expected. With email and texting, most of my communication takes place electronically. No need for stamps. No delay for the recipient to get what you sent. And yet on almost every holiday, in the mail I find a card from my mother-in-law wishing us a happy birthday, a merry Christmas, a happy Valentine's Day, and even a happy Thanksgiving (yes, they make cards for that. Who knew). 

I always thought it was kind of a waste. A waste of money for the card. A waste of stamps to send it. But after being married over a decade, I realize that this is her way of showing she cares for us. It's the time she takes to pick out a card, pay for it, write a message inside, and send it with enough time to reach us before the holiday. It tells us that she's thinking of us and loves us. Sometimes she'll include pictures from our last trip or pictures of her and her husband. It means a lot to her to send those cards, and it means a lot for us to send some back to her. 

It may be a little thing. We may just throw the cards away after reading them (and we may not). But she uses it to connect with us.

What Love Can We Show on This Valentine's Day

Is there something we can do on this Valentine's Day to show our love? Not just to our one true love, but to everyone? It may be too late to send a card this year, but even just a quick text to say, "You are a dear friend. Thanks for being there for me" may just lift the spirits of a friend who is feeling unloved. Writing on a Facebook wall, "Hey, friend. How are you? Let's make plans for next week" may help someone feeling lonely. You never know the impact of a quick message of love.

Share Love Freely

Image via Flickr by vmiramontes
What I've found over the years, though, is that we should share love and admiration for others freely. Don't be reserved thinking that the other person will be put off by that expression or think you strange. It's possible, but that shouldn't stop you from sharing. Nine times out of 10, their hearts will be lifted by what you say. Your friendship will grow and you'll both feel a little more joy. 

With family, saying I love you to your family members is great, but you know what means more? Saying why you love them. For Valentine's Day this year, my husband took nesting boxes and put my gift in the smallest one. On each box, he took a sticky note and wrote a reason he loved me—one for each year of our marriage. Opening a present is wonderful, but knowing things about me that made him happy he married me meant more than the present alone. I can keep those sticky notes and read them again and again. I feel much more loved today than I did just from the present.

Take the time to share with your siblings, parents, and children what it is about them that you love. What qualities do you see in them that you wish you had? What things about them make you smile and make you want to be with them?

What about your friends? Often we take friendship for granted. Why not tell your friends why you're so glad you know each other and what makes them a great friend. Don't be afraid to tell a friend you love them. 

Share Love with Everyone ... Even Those You Don't Know


It's easy to share love with those you know and love dearly, but what about those you don't know? In Matthew 22:37-39, it reads, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

So who is your neighbor? Anyone you see and come into contact with. According to Jesus we should love our neighbors as we do ourselves. I think "thyself" could be interpreted to mean your family. Do you love your neighbors like you do your own family—your own household? If not, what can you do for your "neighbors"?

It could be simple as a smile. It could be paying for someone's groceries behind you. It could be dropping cookies off at a neighbor's house that you don't know. 

When it comes to loving those around you, for me it's about treating others how you want to be treated. The typical golden rule. It's not treating others how you are treated. It's not treating others like you're worried they will hurt you. It's about finding Christ's love and showing it to those around you.
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
"Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
"When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
"Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."'
Matthew 25:34-40 

So for this Valentine's Day, let's share more love into the world. And if I haven't told you lately, I love you!

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