“Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday…just a bunch of crap…”
If you’ve said that this week, I get it. You’re just not feeling it this year. I remember Valentine’s Days in the past that I dragged my feet going home from work and grabbed a lame card at Walgreens, desperately searching my car for a pen to write “Love, Alli,” because that’s all I felt like doing.
Valentine’s Day can be a moment that just points out what you already know: you guys aren’t in a good place.
Maybe there’s a hurt you’re trying to heal or tension between you from a new baby or your work-from-home-together situation. Sometimes things are just ‘off,’ and sometimes it’s more serious relationship or marriage problems. We’re living real life here, and February 14 doesn’t always come at a ‘toasting-our-love-with-champagne’ moment for couples.
This year, I want you to let yourself off the hook for romance. Forget all the normal Valentine’s Day gift ideas—the chocolates, flowers, reservations, and bubbly. Instead, replace all that with one small act of love for your partner.
You and I both know it’s pointless to try to conjure up romance on February 14 when your heart isn’t in it. However, you can still show love to your partner, and February 14 is as good a day as any to do it.
We use the word “love” for all kinds of stuff—from how we feel about our spouse to our favorite Starbucks drink. The Bible says God has a very specific kind of love, and that love is the definition we need to use in our own relationships. Well, at least if we’d like God’s help changing them for the better. And I’d always say yes to that.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
-1 John 3:16-18
God’s love starts with sight.
It sees what someone needs and meets that need.
God’s love looks like sacrifice.
It gives up something you could keep in order to give to someone else.
God’s love happens in steps.
It happens in real actions, not “in your heart” or with “good thoughts.” You can observe it!
We’re in a good place this year, but in 27 Valentine’s Days together, we’ve hit ALL the highs and lows. We’ve done the obligatory dinners where the conversation was stilted. We’ve toasted with a glass of champagne and then turned on a show. We’ve decided we’d celebrate “next weekend,” and next weekend we were busy. But a few weeks ago, my husband did something for me that had the components of God’s kind of love, and it really got me thinking:
Biblical love doesn’t require romantic feelings—or really any particular emotion. You can feel how you feel and choose to love anyway.
What he did wasn’t even a little bit “romantic” for us, but I felt so loved. He sent me to a hotel room by myself for a night to work. He saw I was stressed about finishing two major projects. He noticed I couldn’t get stuff done as effectively working at home with four kids in and out of quarantines and online school. So he booked a hotel room for me, packed me a snack bag, and did Dad-duty until the next day at noon.
He saw. He sacrificed. He took steps. And I felt loved. My husband’s random, Tuesday-night act of love softened my heart in a way that roses don’t (though I admit I love roses too). And it motivated me to want to love him like that, too.
I know a hotel room might not be it for you. Your act needs to feel right for your situation: there is no one-size-fits-all here. If you need Valentine’s Day gift ideas, ask God! He knows both of you, so ask him to help you see what he/she needs. This is a prayer God will love because He is FOR you. He wants his love to help heal and change wherever you are right now.
Let me speak one word of caution from failed experiences of my own: You need to set yourself up for great follow through on this. If you’re not feeling it, then you can’t count on your own excitement being a motivation. (I meant to buy the coffee and deliver it to his office: I really did!) Good intentions mean nothing. One small act of real love can melt something, change something, but you’ve gotta actually follow through!
So help yourself out and:
- Tell a friend and ask them to follow up with you on February 15 to see if you did it.
- Put a spot of time on your calendar right now to execute. (‘Best laid plans…’ and all that).
I paraphrased a passage for you from 1 Corinthians that always reminds me to take the time, thoughtfulness, and effort to actually love. Sweet words or a half-hearted card means little. It’s action from a God-like heart that has the impact of “love.” And the good news is: if you’re struggling with relationship or marriage problems, you can do this with no romantic feelings at all. Love can move even in the tiniest step of sacrifice.
No matter what beautiful words I say, they’re just noise if they didn’t begin in a heart of love..
No matter what insight or strength I have, if love doesn’t guide their use, I accomplish nothing.
If I behave well and have good deeds but love didn’t motivate me, I get no reward for them..
So, no matter what I say, believe or do, I have nothing of value without love.
(Alli’s personal paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)