Valentine’s Day cards are nice. Lovely words, pretty pictures. Sometimes they are made by hand, with attention to detail and words from the heart. Sometimes the giver stood in the card aisle and read every single card to find the perfect one. Some make you giggle, some swell you heart. They are almost always a good thing.
Though I appreciate the greeting card, when a Valentine comes off of the paper, I appreciate it all the more.
Among the many legends of St. Valentine, it is thought he was a priest martyred for marrying soldiers in war when it was forbidden (Claudius II thought marriage made them bad soldiers) and for helping Christians who were being persecuted escape that persecution. They said when he was put to death for his actions (on February 14th) he left a note for the daughter of a jailer he had healed from blindness and signed it “Your Valentine.” It’s a nice thought, really. Much better than it being just a Hallmark day. The one who started this day possibly being someone who believed in the love of others enough to give his life to increase their happiness….and then the first Valentine not based on the desire for a boost in card sales, but instead a sweet note left for a girl whose life this man had changed, and who he knew would mourn his loss. I like the thought that this day celebrates the life of a man who lived his life well, courageously, and kindly. We can do the same.
A paper Valentine is one dimensional. They come alive when you breathe the life into them. How do you do that? By the actions accompanying the sentiment. I think the best Valentines are accompanied with whispers of “Because I love you best.” Not necessarily the words themselves (though yeah….I think most of us would enjoy it) but backed up by actions all year long. Why is it so often that we don’t treat those we love best as precious treasures? As cherished loves?
I think dying for love may be a bit less difficult than living for it. Love is a verb. It requires action. But it should also not be a chore. I’ve always loved the concept from scripture of giving cheerfully, joyfully, hilariously.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
As a walking, breathing Valentine today I challenge you to not just give until it hurts. Keep giving to those you love until you feel good. Give not until you are dying, but until you are living. Until you abandon the things that keep you from loving them well (like the laundry list of all of their faults or the dumb expectations that you won’t give up) and love them to life. It’s only a Hallmark Day if it’s just about the paper. It’s a Heart Day if you are willing to give that instead.