This week we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. It seems to be a time when some people evaluate their relationships honestly and others are concerned only with what they will get from their significant others. I realize it is a time for romance but it’s even a better time for looking inward at the true love in our life.
So often we go through life wondering why things aren’t different. We look at our relationships and think they should be deeper and more meaningful yet quite often fail to realize that we are the ones who are holding back. Past hurts and pains still haunt us because we can’t forget. Past angers still cripple us because we cannot forgive. These past experiences taint our present relationships and cause us to hide behind our creative walls. We don’t have depth in life because we aren’t willing to go to the depths. We sometimes aren’t willing to acknowledge the pains of days gone by so that we might move past them into a new realm of peace. We hang on to our impressions of the world that were formed in sadness or other negative experiences. We get burned so often that we tell ourselves people just aren’t worth it. We begin to believe it is easier to have superficial relationships with everyone than to live through the many betrayals and rejections in order to find the pearls of the few who are true. What is so often lost in the midst of our perceptions is the reality of love.
Love can find us in the oddest of circumstances or the strangest of people. We don’t look for love; love looks for us. We don’t find it; it finds us when we let down our guard and risk the pain of exposition. It embraces us when we embrace others. It calls to us when we are willing to listen. It hears us when we are finally willing to speak. It will not force us to live within it. It will not force us to be open. It will not force us to be weak. It will not force us to be exposed but when we are willing to freely stand naked in spirit with those around us, love will clothe us in the purest peace and comfort.
We have all used love to our benefit over the course of our lives. We have called emotions “love” when they were anything but love. We have loved with condition. We have loved with expectation. We have loved in order to gain instead of give. We have loved out of necessity, convenience and sometimes even confusion. We have loved in order to manipulate, coerce and extract what we somehow believed we were entitled to from another. We have lived our lives doing everything BUT love. It sounds so harsh to say it openly but it is the truth.
It is easy for us to stand and look at ourselves in a mirror that reflects how wonderful we look on the surface but we rarely see who we really are. I am not saying in every situation in life we have loved for some other reason but when was the last time you loved someone truly as much as you love yourself? When was the last time you truly put someone else ahead of yourself without considering it to be a nice or even noble thing to do? Love acts. Love responds. Love never stops to think how much greater it becomes for what it does. It is not proud. It is full of understanding, true grace and mercy. I have seen some beautiful acts of kindness over my life and some genuine displays of what love is but let us not mistake the rarity of those times. Let us not diminish the character of love by making it into a beautiful package that contains nothing of substance when it is opened.
So as we approach February 14th, let us ignore the commercialism and expectations that normally come with the day. It is wonderful to have a day to show expressions of our love but wouldn’t it be better if we lived every day of our lives in a way that our loved ones know exactly what they mean to us? If we will, we may just find ourselves with a gift that lasts much longer than any flowers, candy or jewelry ever could!