Valentine’s Day; you either love it or you hate it. Generally speaking, if you’re in a relationship you love it and the latter relates to you more if you’re single.
I mean, it makes sense. All these loved up couples send each other sappy gifts and all of a sudden, your singleness feels like it’s in the spotlight.
While I have been with my boyfriend for the last three years, February 14 always makes me feel a bit weird.
Like you secretly want them to buy you flowers, but you know you’ll kill them within twenty-four hours. And you don’t want to tell them you want flowers because you want them to give you flowers on their own accord, rather than on a specific day of the year.
But as the years go on, the sappy, loved-up stuff becomes just that. Stuff.
Why? Because love shouldn’t be celebrated one day per year. I’m all about going out on a random Tuesday night to the movies or Thursday morning breakfast when you both have the day off work.
This isn’t a hate-on-Valentine’s-Day post at all. Don’t get me wrong, I think love is definitely something worth celebrating. However, the fact that you can buy a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers any other day of the year for HALF the price makes me wonder who is benefiting from this day of celebration.
As the ads started coming out with Valentine’s Day specials and the shops were filled with “the perfect gifts”, I began reflecting on what I have learnt about love over the years. Lessons that I have learnt through past and present relationships. Not just the dating kind, but all forms – friends, family, work colleagues and God.
1. surround yourself with people who cheer for you.
Love is: having a network of people who support you. And when you find those people, don’t let them go easily. Your circle needs to encourage you, but most importantly, they need to clap for you even when you aren’t looking.
Those people genuinely care for you and they are excited about what lights you up. They aren’t threatened by your success. Instead, they want to celebrate both the small and big things with you.
Love isn’t: holding onto toxic relationships because you’re scared to lose them. Anyone who makes you feel unnecessarily bad doesn’t deserve your attention. If you aren’t happy when you are with them, then walk away.
2. actions and words should reflect one another.
Love is: ensuring that you are authentic and genuine about what you say and do. It’s telling them that you love them and showing it. It’s making someone else feel special and loved.
Love isn’t: saying one thing and doing another. Likewise, you can’t be doing one thing and then saying something completely different. In any sort of relationship, this kind of love is confusing and essentially, harmful – generally to one person.
3. surprises are fun, unless it involves feelings.
Love is: communicating about everything, even when it hurts. Relationship breakups are never fun. Whether it’s a friend you have had since high-school or a partner that you’ve been dating for years; there are almost always tears. And there is almost always one person that hurts more than the other.
This is usually because the communication breaks and one person falls out of love with the other. A breakup of this kind is difficult, because only half the relationship has fractured. One friend was still invested, while the other stopped trying. One partner was still madly in love, while the other had lost feelings altogether.
Love isn’t: waiting until the other person starts feeling the same way as you. It’s not about hiding your feelings and surprising them with a bombshell before you walk away. Love isn’t passive, it doesn’t hope that things will go away and fix themselves. Instead, love actively seeks opportunity to be open and honest.
4. know when to shut up and listen.
Love is: making sure you are on the same page at all times. Communicating honestly is crucial. Knowing that you can sit down and be patient with one another as you talk things out is the best way to solving a problem. Know when to shut up and listen, but also know when you need to stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
Love isn’t: constantly seeking reassurance from your friends, family or partner about whether they care about you. You deserve something that you don’t have to question. Sometimes, their indecision is a decision in itself. While all relationships experience roller coasters, it shouldn’t be a constant one. There will be ups and downs, but know when the lows are outweighing the highs.
5. acknowledge that it takes two to tango.
Love is: feeling like the relationship is effortless – not in the sense that the effort is less, but because there is an equal tug of the rope from both ends that it feels mutual. You shouldn’t feel like you are doing all the work, and neither should they.
Love isn’t: sitting back and not trying, or always waiting for them. It’s about acknowledging that it takes two to make a relationship work – in whatever form it may be. If you are the only one trying, then seriously consider whether you want to hold on or walk away.
6. apologise, but only for the right things.
Love is: recognising when you are in the wrong. It’s appreciating when you have jumped the gun, assumed something incorrectly or said something way out of line. Love is knowing how powerful an apology is and not being scared to say sorry when necessary.
Love isn’t: apologising for what makes you you. A person who loves you shouldn’t make you change yourself just to please them. Your happiness should not be wholly dependent on someone else. Rather, your worth and value should be firmly rooted in your identity with God.
7. knowing when it’s time to move on.
Love is: recognising that the people we encounter and connect with can be one of two things: a message in a bottle or an anchor. They either come into your life merely to teach you a lesson, then just as quickly, they drift, moving on to be picked up by someone else. Or they support, love and encourage you, firmly holding you when your seas get rough.
Love isn’t: convincing someone to stay. Nor is it convincing yourself that you should. If your gut is telling you that you need to let go, then seriously consider listening to it. Your heart can confuse you sometimes, when you let emotional thinking outweigh the rational.
Relationships are important parts of life. Honestly, I truly believe it’s the reason we were placed on this Earth. Our purpose is to love one another just like Jesus loved us.
So today, and every day, I want you to remember that while we throw around the word ‘love’ like there’s no tomorrow, Jesus’ love is far from cliche.
“I love chocolate!”
“I absolutely love your haircut!”
“I love my family!”
And then…Jesus loves us.
There’s one small word that is used in all of the above and yet the capacity for His love is so much greater than we could ever imagine.
So as you celebrate Valentine’s Day either surrounded by your friends, family or your partner, don’t forget the agape love that Jesus has for us – because that beats a dozen roses any day!
Keep smiling. x