In exactly six days, the dreaded “V” day will be upon us. People will scramble dreadfully to remember to get cards, and chocolates, and flowers. The level of commitment in relationships will be measured out in gifts and tokens, and those that forget this day will have some rough times ahead.
It is rather glaringly hard, to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming. Stores are chock full of red, white, and pink stuffed animals, and piled with boxes shaped like hearts holding chocolate bonbons. But, who or what is Valentine?
(Other than a rather well-developed character of mine with his own fan base who hates his own name)
The name Valentine means “Strong, vigorous, healthy” according to Behind the Name
A little bit of research on St. Valentine will bring you into a swirling, whirling vortex of controversies. Some people will claim that he married lovers in secret, in Rome in the third century when marriage was being outlawed. Others will tell you that he was a tutor to a wealthy Roman patron’s daughter and dared to share his Christian faith with her as well as teaching her to read. He was summarily executed but left her a note farewell signing it “Your own Valentine”.
While there is precious little evidence for any of these stories, I like the last one, best. However, there is proof that Valentine or Valentine’s existed according to the Catholic Church record of martyrs. You’ll find a synopsis here, of what I think is closest to the truth. Chaucer is mentioned in this history of Valentine and also in the Wikipedia entry on him.
While people will probably never agree on the origin of the day, or why it came to mean expressing romantic love, one to another, I have been doing some thinking of my own over the idea of Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a sweetheart to run madly around, trying to find the perfect gift for on this day, and it really has never bothered me. In fact, it’s been a bit of a relief to not have the pressure I see others struggling under on February the 14th, but it’s also a bit of a pain to tell to those who ask on the 14th “No, I don’t have a Valentine” and then smile tiredly through their assurances that “One Day You’ll Have One, Dear.”
Last year, I bought a t-shirt from a new t-shirt company called Bought By Blood, and I love it. In fact, I’m planning to wear mine ON Valentines day this year. It features the image at the top of this post. Those words got me thinking which is always dangerous. The thought ran along these lines. Since Jesus is my True Love, and He has given me all of Himself as a life-long Valentine, what can I give Him as a Valentine?
Immediately, the words What good are you if you only love those who will love you in return, even the heathen do that? I yelped, and grabbed for my Bible.
The whole passage runs like this in the ESV: Luke 6:32-35
If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those that love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful even as your Father is merciful.
And then of course I had to go looking at the cross-reference which is even MORE specific.
You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ But I say to you Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those that love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Talk about asking for a specific thing. I shut my Bible and said “There is just no way I can give this to you for Valentine’s Day. You’re asking for the impossible here. And I know You, You want this gift for more than just a day.” I could almost feel Jesus smiling. Waiting. Oh, there are days I know His eyes twinkle when we talk.
So, here is the resolution I have come to: From now until Valentine’s Day (six days) I am going to live and on purpose love those who don’t love me. I’ve selected several I know would like to see me vanish completely from their lives (like you don’t have those people in your life) and not only am I going to pray for them, react in love when they attack me, but I’m going to actively seek their best. For six days. Only six.
I’ve also roped my True Love into helping me with this project. His idea, He gets to help me pull it off. That’s how it works with He and I.
If want to join me on this insane journey which will, I’m certain, make Valentine’s Day very memorable, leave me a comment below. Loving enemies has got to be the hardest thing to do, for me. I’d appreciate prayers. On Valentine’s Day, I’ll repost this, with an update. Also, if you’ve got any interesting ideas about Valentine’s Day I’d love to hear those too. Stick them in the comments.