Today is Valentine's Day, and that means many things to many people. I suppose I should really rephrase that to read that it means different things to each of us. For some, this is a day of planning an elaborate marriage proposal, a fun surprise, or baking six dozen cookies for a child's class party. It most assuredly involves something either pink, red, or sugar-laden...or possibly...all of the above.
For some of us, this day brought a beautiful and thoughtful bouquet of flowers, a great dinner out, or a card left somewhere where it would easily be discovered. It may be a day when chocolate is consumed sans guilt, you get to pick the movie, or somebody went to Jared's.
Wherever that is.
For others, it will be Tuesday...or framed as SAD..."Singles Awareness Day." My son believes that it is "National Florist and Card Company Extortion Day"...but then again...he's 19 and male. And in case you're wondering, he chose not to be extorted this year.
(Which meant that he got the ten minute lecture on how one day some girl friend/girlfriend/wife person wasn't going to put up with that junk. Future daughter-in-law? You're welcome.)
Valentine's Day, in my humble opinion, is a celebration of "eros" love with the focus on the significant other (at best) or a new interest (at worst). It is also the time when any "iffy" relationship is definitely going to go south...because I've found that more often than not, this day is going to involve a serious minefield for any guy...and if he's not committed or isn't fairly secure in his relationship...he'd rather be doing anything but dealing with this day). It isn't the best day for a first date...or, frankly, even one of the first ten dates. It just carries too much pressure with it.
It also has been extended - thanks to elementary schools all over this great country - to include friends and a huge party that is not likely to tick off anyone in this politically correct culture in which we navigate. As long as everyone brings everyone a valentine...all is well. As the turn to junior high is made, there are some hurt feelings and awkward moments as someone generally steps out each year to do something dramatic...only to find it is a total fail. In high school, some of the girls begin getting flowers in the office or some bangle, giant cookie, or stuffed animal that make the other girls seethe with envy.
Oh, maybe that was just me.
Thanks to our friends at Hallmark (and their cousins at American Greetings and the like), we are now expected to send valentines to family members. Personally, I think it is a brilliant marketing strategy. And yes, I was suckered in to purchasing cards for my family members.
(My friend, Cindy, is probably thinking..."Girl, you could have MADE those cards...but who am I to judge?" Cindy's cards are beautiful, by the way.)
So, today, on this day of love, you've probably covered the eros and the philos loves pretty well, yes? If not, every grocery store, florist, department store and discounter in the United States will be happy to help you with that.
(And if you are all Dave Ramsey-ish...just remember that tomorrow everything will be 50% off. Score!)
What you may have missed, though, is some expression of agape love. you know agape...(uh-gah-pay)...loosely defined as "Christian brotherly love." You know what I mean...doing something for someone who could probably use it just because you love Jesus and are willing to serve. It might be the neighbor who is rarely seen but would love some flowers or the lady in your Sunday School class who was recently divorced and was so sad during the hearts and flowers today because it takes her to an awkward place. Or the man down the street who is sick and just wants to feel better...but might like an original Crayola masterpiece from your five year old.
Just think about it. As for me...it has always been my contention that anyone you run across in your daily life is your mission field.
If you didn't get enough agape in today, make an effort to look around you this week for someone that you can bless. Bonus points if you can do it anonymously...and if it is more than they can possibly expect. Don't have any idea where to start? Well, pray about it. Then hide and watch.
You'll be inspired and awed by what He will open your eyes to all around you. That little whisper that you ignore because you worry about what someone will think? Quit worrying. Just act. Pay it forward...share a card...whatever.
The word "agape" (as in agape love) and "agape" (uh-GAPE) are spelled exactly the same way but the former means (as already mentioned...) "Christian brotherly love" and the latter means "mouth wide open...as surprised, shocked, or awed." Coincidence? I think not.
When we embrace the love of God...truly embrace it...the recipients of that outpouring of His love through us (agape) will have their mouths "agape" and how much and how uniquely He loves each of us. Make it a point to stun people by listening to that inner prompting...just remember to point them to Jesus.
Happy Valentine's Day! If you are reading this, it is my ardent hope that you have received all three sources of love today. Just remember, though, that we cannot control what we receive from others...only what we give to others. Give of yourself as you are prompted by the Spirit to act. When you do...it will be a thing of beauty...and love.