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Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Lovin' (or Not)

From February 2014

How about a Valentine's Day Lovin'? 

I'm not sure.

The problem is that I find Valentine's Day equal parts annoying and adorable.  Which I think might be exactly what my husband and I were looking for in a mate because that describes pretty much our general thoughts of each other. 

Oh, I kid.  A little bit.

Honestly though, even though I thank God for my husband every single day, am blessed beyond measure by his commitment to me and our little men and I love him more today than I did on our wedding day, when I stand at the Hallmark and read those cards with the flowers on them and the fancy script saying To My Soul Mate, I just don't feel it.  It takes some serious willpower for me to not roll my eyes and make a gagging noise.

I don't go quite as far as some Debbie Downers who complain that it's a Hallmark manufactured holiday and blah, blah, blah.  In a world full of some serious pain and lots of bitterness and loneliness, what in the heck is wrong with celebrating love?  New love, old love, romantic love, paternal love, the love of friendship.  Love is all good.

The problem is when people (I'm looking at us, ladies) set really high expectations for this day and maybe these people watched too many episodes of Days of Our Lives or, God help us, The Bachelor.  (I would say if you are not watching The Bachelor as a comedy, then you need to change that channel quickly.)

Valentine's Day, depending on the year, or the guy or the gal, can take on all kinds of shapes and sizes.  You can be running around with hearts instead of eyeballs all day typing up status updates with all manner of poetry and photos of the romantic getaway you're taking.


(2015 Update:  Apparently you can't find the SNL video in total anymore.  HERE's part of it shown on the Today Show, but you gotta listen to Natalie and Al talk about the weather first. )

Thank you Saturday Night Live.  You complete me.

Now I am not one to look a gift horse (or teddy bear dressed like a bumble bee) in the mouth because although men usually get blamed for the majority of Valentine's Day disappointments, I have certainly played my part in that game as well. 

One Valentine's Day, when we only had two little boys, we decided that Steve would pick up carry out from a fancy restaurant to bring home.  (Lest we end up eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.) Then my job would be to put the kids to bed early and pick a movie.  (Lest we end up watching Bruce Willis's 1993 masterpiece, Striking Distance, for the 412th time.) 

I was in the midst of trying to watch all of that year's Academy Award nominees and had read high praise about the performance of Diane Lane in a lovely, feel good film called . . . Unfaithful.  You might be able to guess the gist of that heartwarming tale, but if not, I can tell you this:  Diane Lane cheats on her husband, Richard Gere, with a guy who buys and sells used books. (Well, of course, he does.) Richard Gere ends up killing the book guy with a snow globe and wrapping his body in a blanket which we see tumbling out of a dump truck to land among the trash in a landfill.  Meanwhile Diane and Richard try to figure out if they should get the heck out of Dodge or turn Richard in to the authorities. 

I mean, really, can you feel the love or what?

Let's just say there weren't a lot of warm, fuzzy, romantic feelings happening after that movie was over. My husband was dumbfounded at my choice and rightly so.  To this day, he reminds me of THE WORST VALENTINE'S DAY MOVIE DATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

So that teddy bear with a cellophane wrapped lollipop full of Red Dye #40 is looking like a good option about now, am I right?

But maybe that isn't even in the cards for you this year.  Maybe the only thing Valentine's Day and most days, for that matter, make you feel is lonely.  And that can be the case, even when you're married, even when you're sitting across the table from THE ONE.  THE ONE that you thought was the perfect love.

I think there can be an enduring, lasting love between two people.  But perfect?  Not between two living, breathing human beings.  Not one that hasn't been through a season of being drowned by torrential rains or buried under avalanches of bitterly cold snow or muddling through a stagnant cesspool of humidity.

So if you've seemed to pass by all those seasons, say a giant thank you to him with the little h and a great big thank you to Him with the big H.  And know that the scary season might be right around the corner because we, human beings, are sometimes compassionate and loving and full of jewelry and chocolate and flowers  But other times we, human beings, are selfish or strapped for cash or just a little clueless and we just pick up some dumb thing at CVS or we blow the whole thing off. 

Sometimes we can feel all the feelings of some of my favorite love songs from Taylor Swift (this one won't work for you if your man's name isn't Stephen, but just hang on because it's likely that she'll date someone with your man's name and write a song eventually), Bruce Springsteen  and Matt Maher.  And sometimes we just can't feel those feelings at all.

That's why maybe we need to relax the expectation on Valentine's Day.  I'm not saying not to celebrate it.  Love is great.  It is a gift.  It is wonderful and comforting and fun.  It also can be hard.

So if your Valentine hits it out of the park, say thank you.  And if he blows it, try to give some grace.  Try real hard to remember something - anything - that you fell in love with because you did choose him, right? 

And if you can't conjure up any of that or if you are alone and want to throw rocks at the TV every time you hear that every kiss begins with Kay, rest in the one that loved you before you were born, will love you all of your days and will welcome you home with a gift to which no flower or candy or exotic trip could compare.

There is a perfect love.  A love that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Thank Him if Valentine's Day is full of joy and rest in Him if it's not.  The story of His life and His sacrifice is no fairy tale.  It is the greatest, truest love story ever written.


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