The Conversation Hearts

I have a lot of single friends that get very depressed around Valentines Day. No better reminder that in a coupled world, you’re on your own. For some reason we often equate coupledom to worthiness, and a partner is the sign that someone has chosen us. That we are special. Yes, a myth, but a common one. It’s an easily disproved myth. You look around coupledom and you can see quite easily that “special” was not a requirement of the status. You can look around singledom and see the lack of “special” has nothing to do with their status, either.

Even those quite content in their singles status get a bit annoyed at the pity that some throw their way at this time of year. (Or at any time of year). They see their singleness as one of the least important things about themselves, and to have it scrutinized is downright uncomfortable.

There are others that have lost love – to breakups, to divorce, to death, to apathy. They often are overcome with the emotion of it all. Sometimes with bitterness, sometimes melancholy, sometimes numbness. Sometimes with reminders of sweet memories that even now live in their hearts.

Truth is, I have a lot of coupled friends that get very depressed around Valentines Day, too. Some have mates that don’t share their love of the holiday and they feel let down every year. Their expectations aren’t met. Their heart is broken as their partner chooses not to acknowledge something that is very important to them, or can’t seem to get it right. Often their partner is heartbroken themselves, knowing they don’t meet these lofty expectations and feel crushed under the pressure of the obstacle course that is a maze to their love.

There are those who are struggling in their relationship, who don’t feel like celebrating. They don’t like each other at the moment and really aren’t in the mood for expressions of their affection. They dread the question “So what are you guys doing to celebrate?” “Well, I am going to have a six pack and watch TV in my recliner and she’s going to be slugging back a bottle of wine while watching Lifetime in the bedroom.”

There are those for whom it is a big show. They get the two dozen red roses delivered to the office (one is not enough to express their love), the restaurant reservations at the most flashy romantic restaurants, the Jumbotron romantic gestures. Their huge public displays of affection that scream to the world “Are you looking at us?”( to which most of us silently answer “Yeah, but not for the reason that you think!”)  They want everyone to observe the greatness of their “luv”. I admit….I am intrigued. I am watching. But while I appreciate the show (OK…only sometimes), I usually see them as more shine than substance.

Then there are the people who I think get it right. Those who may participate in a bit of the corny schtick, but do it with a twinkle in their eye. They share the joke. They cater to the whims of their partner, because they like making them happy. They respect the one they love. They don’t exert pressure; they don’t come to the table with unrealistic expectations. Their true gift is each other, and they know it with every fiber of their being. Fact is, this day is no more of a celebration of their love than yesterday. What matters isn’t one day of gestures, but every day of their life together. The way they treat each other when the spotlight is not on and no one is looking.

Though not in a relationship, I am a big romantic. I love celebrating love. I love seeing it around me and my heart is warmed when it is gifted to my family and friends. But I admittedly roll my eyes at the idea that it is about the candy, flowers, jewelry and grand gestures. I roll my eyes that it is always perfection. That is not the kind if love that I desire or the kind of love I feel that I am missing out on. That’s not the kind of love that I think is real.

What I celebrate today is the kindness that I see as one cares for another. I celebrate those who make the one they say they love feel cherished. I celebrate those that honor the person they love – who don’t ridicule or disrespect or easily become impatient with them. I celebrate those who are there to celebrate the good times and share the weight of the bad. I celebrate those who live love and don’t just use it as a shiny display. Who love each other in spite of the warts. Whose souls are connected in a way that part of them, the unseen part, is bound together forever.

So I celebrate you folks who get it right today. You are my valentines. A special greeting card of hope. That love can be real, that it can be true. That it can be comfortable and fun and passionate. That it can endure the bad days, and the boring days, and the days you hate each other’s guts, and yet still renew to become good again. You are the conversation hearts that sprinkle the world with tiny bits of sweetness and silently shout what true love is. Your love is an encouragement. One thing I know…..love is not about a day. It’s about endurance. And another thing….when it is right, it is a great gift that reflects the very character of God.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you all feel loved and special….regardless of your circumstances.

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