Revisiting an old favourite. This post was published a couple of years ago on Valentine’s Day.
A blog post on Valentine’s Day – how can I not write about love?
First off, where exactly did the tradition of Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, come from? Let me tell you a story — please forgive me if all of its details are not exact. It may have been paraphrased at the writer’s discretion. 😉
There once was a priest by the name of Valentinus (Valentine) who lived in Rome about 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At that time, Claudius the Cruel was the Emperor of Rome. St. Valentine, the priest, didn’t like Claudius and many people felt the same way. Claudius believed that Rome should have a big army which he wanted men to volunteer to join. Many men did not want to leave their families, wives, and girlfriends to go off and fight wars and so limited numbers volunteered for the Roman war.
Of course, having so few men join his army made Emperor Claudius very angry. He developed this crazy idea that if men were not married then they would be more willing to join his army. Emperor Claudius declared that there would be no more marriages. St. Valentine, along with others, felt that this was ridiculous and indeed cruel. One of Valentine’s duties as a priest was to marry people – and he kept doing it. Even after Emperor Claudius passed the law forbidding marriage, Valentine continued performing marriage ceremonies secretly.
One night, during one of these secret ceremonies, footsteps were heard at Valentine’s door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but Valentine was caught. He was thrown into jail. His punishment would be death.
Many young people visited Valentine while he was imprisoned. Flowers and notes were thrown up to his window. His supporters wanted him to know that they too believed in love. One of the young people, the daughter of the prison guard, was allowed to visit Valentine in his cell. The two would talk for hours. The prison guard’s daughter believed that Valentine had done the right thing by continuing to perform marriage ceremonies. She supported her friend.
On the day that Valentine was to be sentenced to death, he left the prison guard’s daughter a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. The note was signed, ‘From your Valentine’.
It was that little note, written on the day of Valentine’s death, February 14th, 269 A.D., that started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. Now every year on this day people think of love and friendship. If they know Valentine’s story, they also remember how Claudius tried to stand in the way of love, and how Valentine proved that love cannot be beaten.
So, what is love? Oh yes, I know what the dictionary says, but really, what IS love?
Well first, maybe let’s talk about what love is NOT.
Love is NOT a fluffy sort of thing nor is it a word which should be lightly or randomly used. When we say it, we need to mean it! Love is a feeling of very deep affection. Love is more than just romantic love. (Let’s briefly point out that love is separate from lust – although the two are often mistaken.)
Love is NOT control. Loving someone does not mean that you use your love to control that person’s behaviours, emotions, or even reactions to situations or events. Love will rein in behaviours and actions that may cause the loved one harm or that are made under duress or without clarity of thought, provided that the reining in is, itself, done lovingly.
Love is NOT vengeful nor is it vindictive. Love cannot be about keeping score. It must be about forgiveness and moving forward.
Love is NOT jealous, or hurtful. Love must not be about ownership or infliction of pain, emotional or otherwise. Love is not about hurt, but about preventing hurt. Love is about healing and helping to take away pain when hurt occurs.
Love IS a true and deep emotion, one that is long lasting. When I think of my children and my loved ones, I think of love that never ends. No matter what happens, I know that I will love those people forever.
Love IS respectful and supportive. Love is also generous with that respect and support. Love will sacrifice for loved ones. There is no truer, deeper love than “agape” love: to love like Jesus, with a desire for nothing but the best for others.
Love IS kind and compassionate. Love helps when needed and shows compassion on those who are weak, sad, or suffering.
Love IS loyal. It stands up for truth. Love will take a stand against injustice, hatred, and prejudice. It will speak up and stand up for others, even if it is standing alone.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, let’s think about love in its purest and best forms – the love for family and very dear friends, the love for others, even strangers, in order to show them kindness and compassion, and the love for values and beliefs and standing up for truth.
Let’s focus on the innocence of children and love. Children love unconditionally – let’s take our example from them. Let’s work to keep their minds fresh and innocent, untainted by societal integrations of equating love with lust and sex. Let’s be strong role models in regards to love that comes from the heart.
Let’s remember that love is the greatest gift anyone can give. The commercialism of Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to dictate that we forget about the true demonstrations of love: doing kind things for others, giving a kiss and a hug, making a homemade card and / or a meal for someone, going out of our way for someone else, calling, emailing, or texting someone just to say we are thinking of them. Please note: these demonstrations of love can happen EACH and EVERY day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day!
Let’s aim to center our thoughts on the real idea behind Valentine’s Day: to love one another just as we, ourselves, were created in love.
(Dear Readers, Your reads, comments, likes, and shares are messages of love to me! Thank you for your support, always! Please take a moment to like our Facebook page, Writing For The Love of It, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @kim_blais. With great affection, ~ K ~)