The virtue of Valentine’s Day

Despite the negative connotations surrounding the holiday, there are still postitive aspects to a day of love

Every Feb. 14, countless numbers of chocolates, candies, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones in the name of Saint Valentine.

Despite the mixed popularity of the holiday, Americans spend a significant amount of money every year to commemorate the day of romance. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average person will spend approximately $130 in presents and decorations, bringing the nation’s total receipt to more than $18.6 billion a year on Valentine’s Day.

In 2014, nearly six million people will plan Valentine’s Day marriage proposals, and more than 151 million cards will be exchanged between loved ones.

Now, if you are a single on Valentine’s Day, you understand perfectly when I say that the above statistics are enough to make you nauseated. Watching friends and strangers overload on cuteness can certainly make the holiday a difficult time to spend without a significant other.

Commercialized and blown out of proportion as it may be, however, there has always been something inherently charming to me about what most consider a silly, industry-fabricated holiday.

Though chalky candy hearts spelling out one’s feelings in poorly written grammar have never really appealed to me, the idea of falling in love has, and does.

While the romantic love that is celebrated on Valentine’s Day is certainly something to look forward to and enjoy, the holiday also serves to remind me that there is a deeper, more genuine self-denying love that exists outside the 24-hour confines of Feb. 14.

As Christians, we understand that love is much costlier and significantly stronger than our modern glorification of sentimental love. Despite culture’s say in the matter, pure and perfect love does exist — only not in the costumes we have become so accustomed to seeing.

Unlike Taylor Swift’s incessant saga of romance and break-up that would have us believe that “love is a ruthless game unless you play it good and right,” love is neither treacherous nor tragic.

Love, true unadulterated love between two people, is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for his bride, the church. This representation, though often times distorted, ought to remind us of the faultless love that exists between our savior and his creation.

So while it may indeed be irritating to see grocery aisles flooded with pink and red, the idea of spending a day dedicated to loving others bears an intrinsically beautiful quality. It is evidence to the fact that we were designed to love and to be loved, that our very DNA was constructed in such a way that we crave love because we have a desperation and a need for the righteous love of Christ.

Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, but maybe there truly are lessons to be learned in how far we are willing to go to show love to those who matter most to us.

In a society that is infatuated with pleasing self first and foremost, perhaps we ought to allow the seemingly silly tradition of exchanging gifts to remind us that it is people — not wealth or fame, careers or fortune — that are meant to have the number one priority in our lives.

It is easy to look outside and find examples of hatred in our world. Pain, tragedy, war and grief are sobering components of life that surround us on a daily basis. So what if, for one day, we choose to be surrounded by the idea of love and affection — if for 24 hours we indulge in the doting and the over-the-top signs of endearment.

You do not need to believe in cupid’s magic arrow, and you certainly do not need to spend a small fortune on cultural concoctions, but at least stop for a moment this Valentine’s Day to recognize the power and the presence of love.

Google reported that the simple three-word query “what is love?” was the single most-searched question in 2013. From Shakespeare to Swift, it is obvious that our culture is longing to discover what true love looks like, feels like and is.

In case a few of you need reminding, Valentine’s Day is next Friday, Feb. 14. Go out of your way to do something special for the people you care about this year — not out of obligation or because the holiday mandates it, but because there are people in your life deserving of the words “I love you.”

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