She sat at my dining room table practically giddy, filling out Valentine’s cards with my two daughters. Her excitement was contagious, and my girls wanted all in. To her there is nothing tedious or time consuming about writing your name thirty times on tiny pink and red cards. If there were such a thing as a Valentine’s fairy, it would be my thirty-something single sister.
Initially, I did not appreciate my sister’s obsession with the holiday. But one day, when I was on the radio talking about Valentine’s Day, a very frustrated woman called in to inform me that I should not leave out Singles Awareness Day, or SAD, which is also highlighted on February 14th. I shared this with my sister as if I was doing her some kind of favor: “Hey, here’s your people!” But she shrugged it off. The radio stations can blare singles events or support groups, the church can have a singles mingle, or her friends can go speed dating, but all will have to happen without her.
She loves Valentine’s Day, and that’s that. While the rest of the world may hope for that perfect evening with their significant other, my sister is being that for everyone around her.
It’s her day to share love with my children, with her co-workers, and with our church family. She looks for opportunities to give out those silly cards with candy taped to them to friends and strangers alike. I have witnessed firsthand the joy she shares. There are people in our lives that I was sure were unable to smile but then my sister would hand them a Valentine’s card and—glory hallelujah—their faces broke. Seriously, it was as if their face muscles were staging a coup that transformed mouth, cheeks, and eyes. That’s what love, freely given, does to a person.
Real love does not envy the romantic relationships around them. Real love is not self-seeking; it always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (see 1 Corinthians 13). Isn’t this exactly the type of love I want my children to desire on Valentine’s? Not to receive but, like my sister, to share.
Some years I have been frustrated with my husband’s inferior attempts at romance, and my lack of appreciation for his sincere efforts discouraged him. But my sister models a far better attitude. I was looking for someone to create the perfect Valentine’s for me, when I should have been more like her: looking to love and accept, instead of looking to be loved and accepted.
Now, when my children hand me their lists of classmates, I no longer groan and roll my eyes. In fact, I buy extra so that I can make them for my co-workers and friends. We had Valentine’s so right when we were kids: include everyone, exclude no one. That is true love. That is what Christ modeled when he died so that the whole world might be saved. My kids can choose to look to be loved on Valentine’s or they can look to be love on Valentine’s. I was unaware that I had a choice on Valentine’s Day until I saw my selfless sister’s attitude present an alternative.
How can you reflect an attitude of love to your children this Valentine’s—a love that transcends the chocolates and flowers? And how will you teach them to look past the superficial and instead extend true love to others?
Photo from Flickr.