Just What Kind of Love?

Candy Mountain

Today is Valentine’s Day. While, I believe it is wonderful our society has the decency to celebrate a day of love, it can ring terribly false. We have this tendency to throw money at our relationships hoping it will fill the chinks in them and we have allowed Valentine’s Day to become one of the worst offenders. Granted, we could insert Christmas or Easter for Valentine’s Day just as easily, but because the holiday is founded commercially upon love, it’s appropriate to address how unlike love it has become.

I drove by a grocery store yesterday with a tent in the parking lot and tables over flowing with chocolates, bears, balloons, flowers, and everything pink. This same store’s billboard off the freeway says, “In the dog house?” and cuddled up to the words is a beautiful bunch of roses. People like getting gifts, especially when making up, but it is all predicated on the notion that gifts get you out of having to deal with your issues. The giver feels like she has done something to make it better and the receiver feels like the giver is really sorry. But no real dialogue actually transpires and, for a time, this works. The couple, or the friends, ride the wave of assumed intimacy, which makes talking about why someone was in the dog house can seem unnecessary, until the next problem arises. When the initial problem goes undiscussed, the second problem is placed atop the first, and next thing you know, you’ve built a fortress of hurt threatening to swallow everyone involved. Talk about your issues. Don’t throw money at them.

The other irritating bit about Valentine’s Day is: it is one day out of the year. Okay, I know I just spent the previous paragraph ripping apart gift giving but gift giving is good when it is for the right reasons. If gifts are given in the absence of an actual relationship, there’s something wrong. Gifts can bolster relationships when they are an outpouring of love. Not self-love, not the kind of love that seeks something in return, but the love Jesus models for us and the numerous ways in which love pours itself out; we should not limit it to “things” and certainly not to one day per year. The thing about love is it cannot be limited. It cannot help but have itself be expressed. If this is not the kind of love prompting our every move, we should question just what kind of love we are engaging in.

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