In many ways, Valentine’s Day is my least favorite of all the holidays. It would be one thing if it were merely a commercialization of a holiday, but it is all one giant commercial. All I ever see of it is the exchanging of chocolate, powdery candy, cute little stuffed teddy bears and gaudy little cards. All this is done in the name of romance, but I do not see what is so romantic about it.
Do not get me wrong, I like chocolate and dating and whatnot (though cards and bears I can do without), but the problem I see is when all these things come together in one holiday meant to glorify an emotion.
Emotions themselves are a fickle thing. Given how much hydrocarbon you have in the morning can determine your mood.
Even someone praising you or a giving you bad grade on a paper can change your mood. That is why so much chocolate is passed around on this holiday: it is an aphrodisiac meant to inspire romantic thoughts in those who eat it.
Most people are not bothered by this fickleness of emotions. After all, it is natural and it does not really matter too much if one person has emotions for another person or not since it is up to them who they date or not date anyway.
But I say the danger that comes from thinking of this emotion as romantic love is that eventually people think these emotions are all there is to love.
Many people have the notion that once there is no longer lovey-dovey feelings in a relationship, they are not really in love and that it is better for them to be apart. I believe that is a contributing factor to the high divorce rate in this country.
However, this mode of thought goes against all of what is really romantic in the world. Take, for instance, someone like Jane Eyre who really had no reason to fall in love with Mr. Rochester, but loved him anyway.
In the movie “The Princess Bride,” Wesley comes back to find that the girl he loves is engaged to the king. He has to go save her from bandits and is tortured for their love. In the great movie “Spider-man 2,” the hero is willing to give up the girl in order to save the city from crime and supervillains.
Even though each of these stories may be exaggerated in terms of the amount of suffering people can go through for love, they still hit a core truth that love and sacrifice are one and the same. So love cannot be a pure emotion because no one would ever naturally want to give so much of themselves to another person.
St. Valentine himself was a man of much love, though knowledge of him has been greatly obscured over time. But he showed his love much like the previously mentioned fictional characters by giving himself to be martyred for his love of Christ. As Ephesians says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
To me, this is the greatest sign of love because it shows love as a willed action at great cost to the one who is loving.
I am not saying that you should not go out and have your fun that night because I really hope you all do.
But please, do not go around convincing yourself that the emotions involved in it are love. Love will come not when you are having a good time, but rather in your worst times. Love will happen when one of you are sick or when one of you are tired or depressed. Love is what happens when you stick with a person despite their faults and when you try to improve that person.
Above all, love is when you feel you need to improve yourself for that person. I hope you all keep this in mind when celebrating love this year.