With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’ve watched the various reactions to this day. I’ve seen those elated to see it come, I’ve seen people gripe about it, I’ve watched people reclaim it as “Singles’ Awareness Day” (and of course *eye* would notice that the acronym for that is SAD…lol), and I’ve seen people going through recent heartbreak and heartache lament about what this one set of 24 hours will mean.
My own past with this holiday is a bit “ehh”, as I’ve gone through every scenario that I just named for at least one Valentine’s Day. As a child/ pre-teen, I struggled with it because I was one of the girls who was not receiving the candy and notes that some of my friends were receiving. It would always give me the most uncomfortable feeling to have my friends come to me and go down the list of things they received and the revelations of the boys who had been nursing crushes about them and I’d just be sitting there with the awkward smile on my face. Once I went to high school, I dreaded the holiday even more because my parents thought that I would go into some deep depression around that time (which was pretty accurate) and I could say that I received something for Valentine’s Day BUT it was from my parents. As an adult, I completely understand and appreciate now what my parents were trying to do but you really couldn’t tell fifteen year old Ashley otherwise about how LAME it was to only be receiving gifts from her parents on this day.
Going into adulthood, things shifted for me a little bit (thank GOD). This holiday wasn’t quite as dreadful and I’m happy to report that I’ve been blessed to experience some great Valentine’s Days in recent history but I know that for me and many others out there, there is something about this day that still can inspire a plethora of feelings, mostly unwanted. This day has become a mental fetter for those who struggle year round with how to think about themselves and how to perceive what they are worth. If you receive too much, you’re doing something wrong. If you receive nothing, you’re doing something wrong. If you’ve gotten dumped between New Year and February 13, he never cared at all. If you have high standards, that’s why you’re single now. If you have low standards, you have to pick the day before or after Valentine’s Day to be celebrated. If you treat someone right all year long, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t matter. Everyone’s talking loud and saying much but very little is resonating or building up. This day has really been reduced to who gets celebrated versus who doesn’t or who receives gifts that may or may not indicate love versus who doesn’t. Why is no one really talking about love?
One of the major lessons of the past nine months for me has been that love requires maturity. Love is not a novice thing and therefore cannot be handled in novice ways. The deeper love goes, the deeper a person’s maturity must be in order to truly love. In other words…”…love is a growing up” (James Baldwin). There is very little about true love that is convenient or that isn’t costly – love is both sacrificial and inconvenient and it does not bow to the whims of time or circumstance. It stretches beyond and it overtakes in powerful and healing ways. Some people may never come to understand the depths of love because they will never answer loves beckon to maturity…and that’s OK. But as for me, I have learned that love is a growing up. Love for God, love for self, love for others blooms as I mature and I become a better agent of love.
So Valentine’s Day has become more to me than just what it was. I didn’t have to be labeled as lovable or unlovable because of what happened on this day, just as a Christian is not labeled as saved or unsaved by how they celebrate Christmas or Easter. I am able to observe as a woman in her mid-twenties and see the teenage girl reeling from a breakup a week before Valentine’s Day and empathize…and love her by letting her know that I care and that this not the end. I can make time to hang with my friends and show them appreciation on this day without concern about how it may look. I can do random acts of kindness for my parents to thank them again for all those years that they remembered me in my youthful arrogance and refused to let me completely wither emotionally. I can show appreciation to those who love me and still dream about what is to come. I’ve come to be OK with this day, not for what I can get but because I can give. Love is a growing up.
Happy 214! I love you, I do!