“Valentine’s Day 2009 my husband and I renewed our vows with others at Mass on one of my happiest days ever. That Mother’s Day he left out of the blue. Valentine’s Day 2012, our divorce was finalized, stamped with the date forever. “Yes, I understand struggling on special days. I have a few crazy ‘coincidences’ like this. I don’t understand why God allows these things, but I do know Valentine’s Day is not about the Hallmark, chocolate candy, over-priced bouquet fluff we think it is. Valentine’s Day is about choosing to love another despite his or her ‘worthiness.’ It is about choosing to love God above all and to selflessly serve Him even when it’s hard, even when it means loving without evidence of being loved in return. It’s about a Cross rather than a heart and a commitment rather than a condition, a decision rather than an emotion, and a covenant rather than a contract. It’s about knowing that even in divorce your call to Love is unchanged while the burden of doing so is not easier. It’s about choosing the same attitude and sacrifices that many of our Saints did and hoping to one day also be made a Saint. It’s not about one day. It’s not even about your spouse’s life. It’s about one life: yours. “You make it through by reading James I and counting Valentine’s Day among your Joys because of what it produces in who you are and what you become. You make it by looking others in the eye and hearing their stories, not so you can be better loved but so you can love others better. You find little ways to make Joy happen in your life with whomever is willing to receive it. Bake cookies for a friend. Visit a lonely shut in. Leave a trail of hearts with funny, inspirational messages for your kids. Do a craft at the local library and bring it to a shelter. Give your things away. Spend time in Adoration with the only one who Loves perfectly. And don’t forget to love yourself, too. You can’t expect anyone to treat you better than you treat yourself. Know you are Loved and act like it. Hold your head high. Pamper yourself. Take a walk. Take a trip to a museum. Take a bubble bath with scented oils and pretty candles. Read uninterrupted for 30 minutes (or at least five!). Dress in something that makes you feel beautiful and don’t wait for or get discouraged by compliments or put downs. Do it for you and to Thank God for all He has given you as opposed to all you want Him to give you. Remember to date the Lord first and foremost. He is your one true Love and in Him lies solace. Most of all smile. Simply smiling goes a long way toward changing how others see and react to you and how you see and feel about yourself. Sometimes the answer really is that simple.”Reading it again, I can’t help but be convinced her response was inspired by the Holy Spirit, not just for the benefit of the people in our group, but for many. My friend’s words, and what we’re facing right now, help put this day in focused perspective, confronting again the question: “What’s love got to do with it?” The answer? Well, everything really, but first we need to understand — really grasp — what love is. As Flannery O’Connor once said, Christianity isn’t an electric blanket keeping us cozy. Christianity is “the cross.” It may be hard to hear, but it also can be the most freeing thing you will ever learn in this life. God bless you, and Happy Valentine’s Day! (By the way, we’ll accept any and all prayers for my dear hubby!) Q4U: What is your definition of true love?
Copyright 2019 Roxane Salonen