As I was walking through downtown Chicago, I noticed a Mrs. Fields cookie shop. In the window were several large cookie cakes, with pink, red, and white hearts and endearing messages written in icing. Valentine’s Day is coming up.
I started thinking about some of the derisive comments I have heard regarding Valentine’s Day and how it is grotesquely commercialized into a marketing ploy to sell more useless stuff. While I don’t deny that overeager consumption of cheap trinkets and sugary snacks (since nothing says celebration like carbohydrates) has had a detrimental effect on the holiday, I still think Valentine’s Day is worth celebrating for what it represents. In our jaded, advertising–bloated society, we can so easily dismiss the truth because we don’t like the packaging. Romantic love isn’t everything, and it so often is asked to do what it cannot do in changing people’s lives, but it is a good thing. It is because it is a good thing that it has become drenched in the marketing molasses, yet that does not take away from its importance.
So how will I celebrate Valentine’s Day? I don’t have a romantic partner, but instead of moping and griping about it, I will still celebrate romantic love. I will celebrate the love that I have seen amongst my friends who are married or in a relationship and how they have grown as a consequence. I will celebrate the patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and care I have seen expressed through these relationships. I will celebrate the romantic relationship between my parents, who have demonstrated the steadfastness and hardiness of love. I will continue to seek to be a man of wisdom, integrity, and kindness that I will be ready for my future spouse. Most of all, I will reflect on this mystery, that the most common metaphor used to describe the relationship between Jesus and the church is of marriage. Not of lord and servant, not of supplicant and benefactor, but of marriage, the two becoming one.
But I won’t eat any of those Valentine’s Day candy hearts. Not a fan.