A number of legends exist about the origin of Valentine’s Day. One story is tied to the Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia. Another traces the origin to a priest named Valentine, who defied the Roman emperor’s ban on marriage for young soldiers and performed weddings in secret ceremonies.
Another legend suggests Valentine was imprisoned for helping Christians escape from Roman jails. This story has Valentine falling in love with his jailer’s daughter, who visits him frequently, and to whom he sends a missive signed, “From Your Valentine.”
Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in multiple countries with gifts, flowers, candies, and cards. Yet, for many, Valentine’s Day is just another date on the calendar. Some dread the reminder of lost love or never-found love. But love is much more than passion and romance.
Love was such a complex concept for ancient Greeks they assigned at least six separate names to define love. Doubtless, ancient Greeks would have been appalled by the fact current culture lumps all forms of love into one word. But not matter how you define or view love, there are necessary components required for love to prosper.
Time and Attention
Any type of successful relationship requires interest and effort. Often, relationships fail because those involved allow other people or pursuits to steal their time and attention. Maintain forward motion in relationships by giving more fully of yourself. Really listen instead of pretending to. Engage. Encourage. Enjoy time together.
Patience and Perspective
We live in an impatient world, often due to our own over-scheduling. We encounter frustrations in the workplace, or with people or circumstances in other settings, and often, those frustration follows us home and erupt at unexpected moments, directed toward the people we love the most. Patience takes practice because impatience is modeled by those around us every day. Sometimes patience requires looking at situations from a perspective other than your own. Love thrives with patient understanding.
Selflessness and Humility
One-sided love isn’t real love. Love looks out for the interests of others and doesn’t make unreasonable demands. The world teaches self-elevation, often through criticism of others, but love practices humility.
Appreciation and Affirmation
Love builds up instead of tearing down. Love sees positives and affirms them. Love expresses appreciation for acts of service. Love voices affection and admiration.
Grace and Forgiveness
Love is complicated, wonderful and alternately hard, but with the proper care, love thrives. Love ebbs and flows with changing emotions and circumstances. Learning to forgive is an integral part of love. Forgiveness involves not keeping a record of wrongs, or harboring resentment, or plotting revenge. Grace extends mercy and pardons offenses. Forgiveness and grace move forward instead of focusing on the past.
The apostle Paul was a skilled wordsmith, who had great insight into the concept of love. His description of love is fitting, but also challenging.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
Think about your relationships and weigh them against Paul’s love definition. Do you have work to do? I know I do.