Sometimes I get frustrated with the naysayers, the cynics and the pessimists who degrade and badmouth this annual celebration of love. Regardless of the way that some claim it to be another, “Hallmark Holiday,” Valentine’s Day started, historically, as a celebration of a Christian martyr. In the 5th century, there was a priest who married young couples when an edict had been sent by the government forbidding it. There was a war going on and those in power thought it would distract young men, who could be soldiers, to be wed. One priest thought differently, and he died for his belief in love. How could that not be worth celebrating!?!
It isn’t that I’ve ever had a particularly notable Valentine’s Day. They’ve been spent fairly traditionally with dinners and candles and the occasional bunch of flowers. But it isn’t the “doing” of Valentine’s Day that always intrigued me so much as the idea of “being,” with those I truly love.
Love. Now there is an overused, un-appreciated and misused word. I find that the purest, most beautiful description of it is in 1Corinthians which says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
As amazing and inspiring as I find this verse, I find it equally disheartening to me, not for what, “love is” but for what I’m so obviously not. I, who pride myself on my love of love, fail so often in so many dimensions. “Love is patient;” I am not. “Love is not self-seeking;” I often figure out my plans based on what is best for me. “Love is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs,” I remember too much about things that shouldn’t have mattered then and certainly don’t now, yet I bring them up anyway. “Love is not proud,” still I am constantly letting my husband know ways he could love me better. I am embarrassed to admit this about myself, yes, but I think it is important to be honest, because in this life it is impossible to be loveable all the time.
Sometimes … okay–often, I know I’m not. I can seem to be, but when I’m tired or wired, frazzled or frayed, I’m very un-loveable, I assure you. Sometimes I am consumed with the fear that I’m not enough, yet I feel like I am entirely too much for anyone to handle moments later. Riddle me this! Recently, I had to laugh and was comforted by a quote from Marilyn Monroe that said, “I am selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure don’t deserve me at my best.”
I don’t pretend to ever be as confident as Ms. Monroe, nor do I ever anticipate that I have reason to be, but I do think she was right. None of us are perfect at love, because no love that isn’t divine is perfect. I’ve met some individuals that are particularly brilliant at it (my husband comes to mind) but no one can ever satisfy entirely because no one loves in exactly the same way. What a beautiful frustration.
I think the most important thing to fear about love isn’t screwing up, because we will, but to stop trying. Love should be less about feeling, and more about doing. It should be grace in action during the absolute best and worst of times. It should be a confirmation that someone else matters more. Love is about living for something bigger, its about us glimpsing what we were created for.
So remember, you will fail. I will fail. Epically. (And I’m sure we’ll do it with the best of intentions at heart.) But the amazing and fantastic thing we can rely on–is that love never will.