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So here's the thing. Valentine or no, I love February. It's the month of Mardi Gras (King Cake!), Valentine’s Day (candy hearts!), Presidents' Day (a.k.a random-day-off-work), New York Fashion Week (fall clothes!), and the beginning of serious spring fever for us Southerners.
I especially love Valentine’s Day. Allow me to first say this: I've only had an official Valentine one out of the 27 holidays I've been alive. So while I understand that some single people get all bent out of shape about February 14th, I just love it. It's just so happy. Everything is pink. There are hearts and flowers and chocolates and giant stuffed animals and Justin Bieber Valentine Cards and, have I mentioned the candy hearts?
Quite frankly, it bothers me when people make the holiday all about romantic relationships. In fact, I really dislike clichés in relationships in general, so I'd rather not expect roses or chocolate on V-day ever. Let's attempt to be just a little more creative, boys. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is instead about being intentional. Making people feel special, whether that person is a significant other or rather insignificant in your life.
This year I’ve got a few people on my list, including the attendant who works the night shift in my uptown parking deck at work. I get to see her often-- thanks to the pile of work I tend to let suck up the latter half of my day at the office-- and somehow leaving work after dark is less sad for the two seconds she spends to stop what she's doing and wave at me as I pull through the express lane. I'm sure she does the same for everyone else, but the brief moment she shares with me every day is so sincere. The woman is literally always happy. And she works in a parking deck. Even when it's freezing outside and she has to open her booth window to help people who have inevitably ignored the giant sign at the entrance to the deck that says it accepts cash only for daily parking. Sometimes, when she's not busy, she yells across the lanes to me and tells me, "You have a good night, baby". She's a beautiful soul and I don't even know her name. And on V-Day that is going to change. Maybe no one is sending me flowers, but I'm giving her some. And I'm pretty sure that will be better anyway, even if I am going home alone to eat chocolate and watch Friends reruns in my pajamas.
My pastor did a sermon last Sunday about the woman at the well and Jesus' encounter with her. Jesus told her nothing profound or theological in their exchange, but He indicated to her that He saw her. She was recognized for who she was - five husbands and all - and was still acknowledged as worthy of Christ's attention and His invitation for Living Water. And from that short conversation, she believed. She was transformed simply by knowing that she was seen and that she mattered.
That sermon really resonated with me. We all feel lonely at times, we all feel insignificant or unseen. And the beauty of Valentine's Day in my book is that we are reminded to take the time to make someone else know that they are seen. They are significant. They matter. Even if they work in a parking deck with people like me, who breeze past them every day, wrapped up in our busy lives.
Take a moment this week to contemplate who in your life needs a little recognition. Your neighbor? Your coworker? Your barista? I promise if you make an effort to let them know they matter on V-Day, you'll start to feel like you do too. Even if no one sends you chocolates or Taylor Lautner doesn't buy you a giant teddy bear.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35
Chelsea Cote is a Type A twenty-something residing in Charlotte, NC. A non-profit develoment manager by day, Chelsea loves Jesus, her family, her giant cat Liam, decorating her teeny tiny house, art in all its forms, gummy candy, thrifting, liquid eyeliner, and watching Downton Abbey and Friends reruns. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @cdcote and read her thoughts on faith, fashion and everything in between at bloomingbranch.blogspot.com.
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