Most believers I come across loathe this day with comments like ‘it’s so commercialised’ or ‘it’s all about glitz and glamour’ or ‘it creates so much waste’ and there’s a lot of truth to many of these comments. I too have been guilty of entering into that way of thinking on many former Valentine’s Days.
In more recent years, I’ve been using the day instead as a reminder not only of the Story of St Valentine, who was said to have united many couples in marriage in secret and performed works of healing; but also to get to the root of why he would risk his life to perform the very works that were condemned by the Roman ruler of his time. That’s been a more conducive form of love to let my thoughts be occupied by than former thought patterns of criticism.
This year, at Virtue Ministry we’re taking inspiration from the Saints and asking, ‘what is love?’. Among Christian circles, you’ll hear beautiful scriptural, and spiritual answers very quickly, but what if we asked the general public, or children? That’s exactly what my work place chose to do this year ahead of Valentine’s Day.
We asked a few simple questions surrounding ‘What is love?’ The responses have been both beautiful and alarming. Children quickly jump in with answers like
‘love is respect ’
‘love is being caring’
‘love is putting other’s needs before yourself’. Beautiful.
But when we ask adults, there’s trepidation, ‘What’s the politically correct way to answer this?’ ‘What did other adults say when you asked them?’ ‘Can I take this task away and do it in private?’. We’ve found most adults didn’t answer that question, they opted instead for another that felt safer. Alarming.
When did we get to a place where we can no longer safely ask and answer the question ‘what is love?’
This Valentine’s Day I’d like to be so bold as to challenge you to take up a few questions to first ask yourself, and then to ask one of these questions of someone you know: maybe a family member, a friend, someone you live with or work with. Ask ‘What do you think love is anyway?’ and don’t chime in with a prepared answer but just listen and make it safe in your circle for that question to asked and considered, for it to be sake to share freely, whatever thoughts may be held whether right or wrong, flowery in language or basic, scripturally based or experiential. If as Christians we hope for our culture to hear us when we share the Truth of Christ, we have to first demonstrate that we are receptive and be willing to hear another. So, one circle at a time, let’s be bold enough to ask, strong enough to listen, and genuine enough to want to understand, and this shift from trepidation to safety will happen and it will take all of us.
Here are the three Questions;
1. ‘What do you think love is anyway?’
Just listen to how they answer it, and what informs their answer, and be gentle and curious to try and understand not to win an argument. Don’t enter into a debate, just dialogue to see their perspective and if asked, share yours.
2. Complete the sentence ‘I love…’ –
Who are the people you love most in your life? What are things you love most? Take the opportunity to get to know the person that little bit more personally.
3. ‘I know I’m loved when…’
What are things that people say, or do that makes you think, feel and know that ‘I am loved’. – Most of us tend to have an assumption around the answers to these questions especially towards our spouses, significant other or closest friends like ‘Pft! I know the answer to that, I’ve known them for so long’ but the reality is every new day brings a new set of experiences, and we’re always growing. There’s no harm in updating what we think we know about them, in fact, it will strengthen and create a deeper and more meaningful relationship/friendship.
These are the conversations we don’t have with one another, be bold this Valentine’s day to have it; AND every time you see a red rose, balloons, chocolates, or teddy bear on this day instead of criticising it, ask yourself one of the three questions and ask God are more beautiful question today:
‘God who is Love, you love me perfectly,
what are the ways that you are showing me today that I am loved by you?’
Stina was born and raised a Norwegian and completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Social Work in Australia. She is a Family & Relationship Counsellor, and the former Young Female City Ambassador (Miss Wagga Wagga 2019) for Wagga Wagga, NSW. Stina also works with separated families and supporting TAFE NSW Students through their Mental Health Education. Read more of Stina’s blogs here, Book Stina for a Workshop, OR watch her content on Youtube.