Being a relative new comer to the happy, healthy romantic love arena, I have had every type of emotion about Valentine’s Day you can imagine I went through all the stages of hating it, hating myself, and being cynical and angry about such a Hallmark manufactured day, until I reclaimed it as a day to love myself, and tell my loved ones how much I loved them.
The turning point was Valentine’s Day, 1990. I was young and living alone in Chicago. It was one of my early self-pitying Valentine’s Days made worse by the ice-storm and blizzard hitting the city. The outside storm affirmed my inner negative wallowing, that everything was conspiring to keep me home, alone and unloved, even the weather. Then, the phone rang, early in the morning. (this was when there were still landlines, so the phone rang through my apartment and I heard it, instead of it being buried in my purse on vibrate so I wouldn’t hear it, which is what would happen to me now). I answered, and without any preliminaries, my grandmother’s voice asked me, “ Will you be my valentine?” I was so stunned she had to ask me at least two more times. I said yes, and something inside me shifted. I was happy the rest of the day. I knew that I was beloved all the way in Newfoundland, and my grandmother, who rarely called me out of the blue, it was too expensive, had made the effort to let me know how much she loved me.
This became our tradition, to call each other early in the day every year, to wish each other a Happy Valentine’s Day and remind each other how much we were beloved to one another. We did this, every year, for fifteen years until she died. That first Valentine’s Day without her hurt, but I still knew how much I had been loved.
Valentine’s Day in popular culture emphasizes, one, rather distorted view of love, and it’s true that around February 14th, we are pressured to perform extreme acts of romanticism, especially if we are in a relationship, and expectations are unrealistic and often miss the point. But romantic love is only one kind of love, and it’s not even the most important love. God’s love is the love that makes all other love possible. By PRACTICING LOVE, for ourselves, for each other and for the world we have been given, we can become more grounded in God’s love.
At another bad time in my life, a friend showed me her heart rock collection, and told me how, once she had begun collecting them, she saw them everywhere. Once I began to look, I saw hearts everywhere too. That’s how God’s love is: it’s everywhere, we just have to be looking for it.
I firmly believe that any opportunity to know that we are beloved and to tell others they are beloved is one that should be seized. We need to tell ourselves first. We are all beloved children of God, all of us. God delights in each and every one of us, just because we exist.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY