It’s February and love is definitely in the air. The drugstores are filled with heart shaped boxes of chocolate and unnaturally colored stuffed animals. The card aisles are exploding in red and pink. Children are busy selecting the right Valentine for their classmates and decorating their Valentine mailboxes for the big party day.
All the emphasis this month is on romantic love and the love of friends which is wonderful. (Better to celebrate love than to focus on hate, I say.) But anyone who’s been married more than a few years or has children can tell you that, while the romantic love is nice, it’s not what gets you through the tough times. No, when the tough times come you have to go much deeper than romance to really love each other. There are lots of ways to do it. Some are simple and some are not. It could be as simple as cooking dinner or doing the dishes when your partner is exhausted from a long day of work (inside or outside the home.) Or they may need you to just listen while they talk or, sometimes, just sit quietly with them and let the silence do the talking.
Sometimes, life is more difficult and calls for a different approach to love. It may involve care giving for children, an ill spouse, or an aging parent. At those times, love takes the form of service and support. It’s in the making of meals, and the washing of clothes. It’s in the freedom to do what needs to be done knowing that your spouse will support you in whatever way they can. It may involve financial troubles; doing without and taking on second and third jobs to make ends meet.
But most days, love takes the form of focusing on what’s important to the other person and showing genuine interest in them. It’s about making the bed every day because your spouse likes the bed to be made. It’s about watching that cheesy musical for the umpteenth time because it’s your spouse’s favorite movie. It’s about being frugal with your money when your spouse is worried about finances. But mostly, it’s about taking their concerns, worries, likes, and dislikes seriously and respecting them. I know the times I have felt the most loved by my husband are the times I can see he’s been thinking about me and is genuinely interested in the minutiae of my day.
In a similar way, showing our love for God isn’t just about singing His praises and celebrating the Mass (although those are at the top of the list.) When we truly show our love for God, we care about the things that matter to Him. It may be the poor or vulnerable. It may be about sacrifice and service. Or, it may be about caring for Creation. After all, God cares for Creation (Gen 1.) If we want to show our love for Him, we’ll care for it as well. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as using reusable grocery bags when you hadn’t before. Or it could be more difficult like limiting the amount of gas you let yourself buy each week or month. But mostly it’s about being green for God and not necessarily for ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, may I suggest that you spend time with your spouse, parents, children, and Lord, being interested in something that interests them? I guarantee they’ll feel your love for them. Oh, but don’t forget to get them a Valentine card! After all, it is Valentine’s Day.
Copyright 2013 Laura Nelson