Finally, it’s February! This article idea has been circling around in my head since last semester, but I wanted to wait until Valentine’s month. Well here we are, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching! Can’t you just wait to celebrate the beheading of the famed saint? Just kidding.
As the default internet dictionary puts it, Valentine’s Day is “a day when it is traditional to send a card, often anonymously, to a person one is romantically involved with or attracted to.” When I began thinking about and researching for this article, that dictionary said “to somebody you love,” after the word anonymously. However it seems someone at Dictionary Headquarters decided that love was too vague of a term and changed it. They’re not wrong, though. What is love? Even the ancient Greek language had to divide that word up into four subsections of love because that concept is so broad. I asked a couple of friends in modern America for their definitions and got some peculiar answers. I was told many different things, but the phrases that stuck out to me most were “a turbulent ocean,” “uncertainty,” “being afraid” and “not being able to get someone out of your head.” “Love is when a person plagues your mind.” These adjectives seem incredibly undesirable; is that really what love means?
I think it’s likely that we are misunderstanding what love is. The most notable answer I got to my inquiry was “being afraid.” As a Christian, that is the farthest thing from what I know love to be. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear...whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us” (ESV). I see this love in how my parents and God love me. I can be a spoiled brat sometimes, but my parents still love me. And if those flawed humans can love the flawed me, imagine how much more so God loves me. So much as to die for me (and you, too). “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Those famous words of 1 Corinthians 13 detail was perfect love looks like. There’s no downside to this kind of love.
But for some reason we still don’t always love one another. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you never love anyone. I’m sure you love the people close to you. But what about the people you can’t stand? Anyone can love someone who loves them back, but it takes a special strength to love someone even when they’re being downright unpleasant and mean. Christians can often forget that we’re supposed to show love even then. Matthew 5:44 says, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (ESV). “Enemy” may be putting it a bit dramatically, but if we are called to love our enemies, all the more are we called to love someone we just don’t necessarily get along with. In either case, showing love in the face of hate is an opportunity to show God’s immense strength by continuing to exude His love. With the turbulent political climate today, I think we all need to remember that sometimes.When I asked my friends how they defined love, they weren’t all such negative answers. One of my close friends said, “When you show compassion to someone out of your own heart,” and I think he hit the nail on the head. This Valentine’s day, go hang out with your beau or your single friends — whatever you do to celebrate the holiday. But don’t forget to be loving all year long.