We’ve all been there at some point. Valentine’s day and alone… Again.
It’s Valentine’s month (let’s be honest) and it seems like and I know many who struggle with this “holiday” because it’s either ‘ooey gooey romantic’ or advocating for ‘singles-awareness’. From a consumers standpoint, you see that Valentine’s day is about chocolate, stuffed teddy bears, flowers, and screams at couples that you have to lavish extravagantly on your significant other or you don’t really love them. The true question is: How can we view this day in the correct way, with history about it being taught correctly (rather than being led by consumerism) and living with Christ as our guide for this season?
First, who is Saint Valentine?
” The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery… According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the middle ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France. “
“Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year… Christmas being number 1.”
So, we can see that we’re not really sure who Mr. Valentine is, but what we do know is that all these legends brought about rumors of love of some sort and come to the Middle ages when February 14th was declared Saint Valentine’s Day by the pope of that time, because that day was considered the beginning of bird’s mating season. If you would like to read more, I copied this excerpt from this article thanks to the History Channel but there is a lot more speculations on who he is.
From my little research: from banned marriages to mating birds, to sacrifices for fertility- everyone has seemed to honor this day in the way of intimacy and love. But as someone who knows that the true author of Love has designed love and intimacy for more than chocolate and mating… I want to make the most of this season by sharing truth and loving well.
In this series, I want to share 4 different ways we can use this holiday to be more intentional with loving ourselves, God ( + allow Him to love us), our significant others/family/friends, and our neighbors around us better. And it’s not by falling into the cultural norms of “more, more, more” and “buy, buy, buy“.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Before we can even dig into how to Love God, we have to recognize God and His immeasurable love for us. What better way to do that is to dig into His word and meditate on the LOVE letter He wrote to connect with us through words. Here are just a few verses that I found on love & God.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:7-8
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” ~ John 4:9-12
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:16-18
“We love because he first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” ~ John 15:9-10
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” ~ John 15:12-13
“Now therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:9
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” ~ Psalms 86:15
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” ~ 1 John 3:1
There is obviously a LOT of scripture on God & Love, and this is only the tip of the iceberg too because scripture is just one way God shows us how much He loves us! Being this side of Christ’s death and resurrection we are able to sit in His presence and hear directly from the Father on His heart for and towards us His son’s and daughters. But what I really want to dig in to is little things we can do to love God but before that, we have to know how much we are loved and Saint Valentines doesn’t share that with us. Jesus does.
One of the best way’s we can love God is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
I read this article by Ella Hearrean on how to love God and she utilized the verse above. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I loved a lot of what she said so I encourage you to read it for yourself and see where the Lord is calling you to love Him. However I will summarize below the four areas and give a few of my thoughts as well.
Loving God with all our hearts is about giving Him what we love and the highest priority. Giving each day moments to build intimacy with Him and sharing your day with Him. All of your ups and downs, joys, and sadness. In all of your heart, as you would your best friend. That is the type of heart God has for you and it’s that relationship that He wants to build with you. Loving God with all your heart is going “all in”.
I felt like Ella said this best; “When you invite God into all areas of your life, He will show you how to live in a way that pleases Him.” So where are you needing to bear your soul more to God? That deeper level that you haven’t shared with Him yet, that maybe you’ve been a little scared to go there. In that part, He is waiting for you to bear open to Him. And my favorite part is that after you get to that level, you can begin to ask Him questions and He’ll share with you His thoughts. For example, like Ella shared: “How do you want me to spend my time, energy, money, and talents? What can I do with my resources to honor you?” Find out what God values and stay true to those things. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”4
If you don’t know how to love God with all your mind, I think what Ella said helps by, “… backing up your passions with knowledge.” So the question to ask is what are you passionate about and pursue that fully to bring Him glory. Like with your career or your strengths ( like encouraging people or praying for others). Another way to love God with your mind is to take captive our thoughts and meditate on what He has told us. Read this in scripture: Philippians 4:8 says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” When you begin to love God with all your mind you are honoring Him and what He’s put in you.
Last but not least, loving God with all your strength. From the article: “Loving God with all your strength means persevering for Him each day. To what lengths will you go for the one you love? Poet Bayard Taylor once said, “The loving are the daring.”5 Indeed, genuine love demands strength and courage like nothing else.” It doesn’t necessarily mean physically getting stronger; but with persevering in the hard times, trusting that He is good and loves you. It can mean doing the hard thing when everyone else around you wants to give in and live the easy way. Loving God with all your strength? It’s living your life knowing that what you give He loves it all… and in any weakness you have, He will bring you the strength you need.
I hope this first article on loving well in this season and on loving God was encouraging to you and that you can begin to learn how to love well in this season! I am looking forward to the next few weeks with you! Please send me a message if you have any questions or if you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them! Until next week!