Originally published Friday, 14 February 2014.
I have never really been a fan of Valentine's Day. Sure, I love pink and red color combinations, beautiful bouquets of flowers, and chocolate as much as the next female, but a mandatory day to show love via purchases and swipes of the credit card just have never been appealing.
I remember every February 14th from elementary to high school as the flowers and teddy bears would flood the offices. Parents and grandparents sending their love one red rose at a time. My parents loved me and showed me in a multitude of other ways. I was never jealous that my name wasn't on one of the bouquets, but I just didn't get it. What was the big deal?
Two years ago I read about St. Valentinus of Rome. He is the priest, born 200 years after Christ, whose martyrdom we remember every February 14th. It seems that Valentinus disobeyed the ruling of Emperor Claudius the Cruel to cease all marriages within the Roman Empire and to worship the Roman gods. Claudius needed more men for battle and believed that unmarried men would make better and more willing soldiers. Valentinus knew this was against the law of God and chose to secretly marry couples under the blanket of night so that men could depart for battle having married their loves.
Valentinus was soon found out and taken prisoner of Claudius the Cruel. He was beheaded on the 14th of February for his crimes of love and loyalty to the One True God and His commandment for men and women to join together in holy matrimony.
The faithfulness of Valentinus is a day that I can recognize with deepest respect and gratefulness for the many people held prisoner around the world for their faithfulness to the gospel and for those that have died in the name of Christ Jesus. Sure, I gave small gifts as tokens of my love for the kids and Ron this morning, but Christ's love was lavished on us that we may become sons and daughters of God. Valentinus, and all Christian martyrs like him, died for their faith in Jesus and are presently being lavished with the love of their Savior in eternity.
Perhaps today you are suffering with a broken heart like those of the many Roman citizens who were told they could not marry their love because of battle and Roman decrees?
Does this February 14th hold heartache and pain because of the loss of a loved one, a relationship severed, or some other relational disappointment in life? Can I honestly say, we are lavished even still in our love by Christ?
I am saddened today as well. This last month has been hard for this former foster-mom's heart. My foster son, Little E, was reunited with his birth dad in November. This month he turned three the same week our daughter turned six. While we celebrate birthdays and Valentine's Day as a family, it is with a twinge of sadness for the son that I cannot see. I pray continuously for him and his spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. In some ways, I know what it is to have loved and lost.
This Valentine's Day, may your hearts be comforted by the lavishing love of Christ. May you find moments to rejoice and be glad and may you find beauty in the everyday gifts of the One who died in your place. There is still much for which to be grateful.