When Valentine’s Day comes around we are reminded it is time to focus on that special someone. For a day it is all about demonstrating our love for our spouse or partner.
Soppy cards, flowers and chocolates are all great of course. But the fact we need a prompt is a pretty sad reflection on our efforts for the other 364 days of the year.
Which – for me anyway – raised a disconcerting thought: why do we often need a reminder to show love to the person we share our life with?
I just don’t have the headspace right now…
On Valentine’s we are encouraged to show our love with gestures and efforts – a special home cooked meal, a small gift or a ‘date night’ perhaps.
Inherent to all of those things is the necessity of time. Space to think about what to do and time to make it happen.
Modern life however has a habit of crowding out those opportunities.
Work, families, kids, bills and the like get in the way. Even having the head space to think “what would he/she enjoy on Valentine’s Day?” can be rare. Hence the need for a reminder on 14 February to find some sliver of time to come up with what is often a rushed and poorly chosen gesture.
Or worse still, nothing at all.
No more passion ‘til next Valentine’s Day
Undoubtedly the daily grind drains the spontaneity that makes a gesture romantic. Amongst emails, insurance renewals and getting the kids to bed the natural desire to express our love for one another gets buried.
But the hectic pace of life is not the only hindrance to expressing our devotion more than once a year.
To love at all is to be vulnerable
Showing our love for someone, expressing how important and vital they are to our own life makes us vulnerable. Committing to another human in this way leaves us exposed to the risk of being hurt. A risk we might naturally try to avoid.
CS Lewis summed it up best in his book The Four Loves when he wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”
Not exactly the objective any of us would set for ourselves, is it? Not to mention the fact you will be hard pushed to find a Valentine’s Day card featuring that particular quote.
A greater truth about love
If you are familiar with this quote you will already know that Lewis was writing about a far greater truth concerning relationships and love:
“If you want to make sure of keeping it (your heart) intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.
A risk worth taking
To demonstrate our love for another is a risk worth taking. It is good for us – though we might initially fear it – compared to the cold, harsh alternative.
To quote the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone gives you courage.”
Enjoy Valentine’s Day and lavish as much love and affection upon your partner as you can. But more importantly, when you wake up on 15 February try to remember that it is just as crucial to do the same today as it was yesterday.
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