by Richard L. Burguet •
Well, what’s it going to be this year? Will it be roses, chocolate, a card, jewelry, lingerie, a new car? We have been preconditioned to celebrate Valentines Day, and it all started with your Kindergarten Teacher! You remember the February classroom activity, right? She handed out brown paper lunch bags, and told everyone to decorate them, and put their name on the bag. Then she hung them up along the wall in the room at just the right height. Next came the card making or card buying exercise, and decisions as to who got the “special card” from you. Delivery time was filled with nervous laughter and excitement as you put the cards into your classmate’s Valentine’s bags, then checked to see how your bag was filling. At last, you got the go-ahead to open your bag, and see who had given you the coveted Valentine card that said “love” on it, not to mention the little candy treats. The only thing you could think about for the rest of the day was the little girl who put that card in your sack and that “your life would never be the same . . . ”
I don’t want to burst your Valentine’s Day bubble here, but I say: “A pox on Valentine’s Day!” Enough! Set me free from card company holidays, and advertisers with outrageous offers to show how much I love someone! I don’t want the second-hand guilt that is associated with this contrived celebration. I know that I should pause here and say that I know what you are thinking. This writer is the poster child for Curmudgeon’s International. I am not, and neither am I someone you would call a hopeless romantic.
I want to suggest that if you make Valentine’s Day the only time you tell others how you feel about them, then you are the curmudgeon! You don’t want to be the fellow in the worn out stories whose wife of thirty-five years, was complaining to her pastor that: “he never says ‘I love you’” and her husband responded: “I told you I love you when we got married, and if that ever changes, I will let you know!” When it comes down to it, we frequently fall into the routines of expectations. We simply do the thing that is expected of us because it is expected that we will. The problem with that is those routine expectations become like a duty that we must fulfill and there is not a heart behind the action. We fall into that trap because: “Everyone expects that I will give a Valentine’s gift to my wife, therefore I must get her a gift.” I think the way to overcome living life out of a sense of duty, is to become deliberate in living life out of delight. I think our Valentines cards ought to come all the time, and at seemingly random times, simply because we delight in that person. You could still give a Valentine’s gift or card on February 14, but even better than that, why don’t you buy a box of cards to keep in your desk, and every time you have a loving thought about your “Valentine,” write a note and send the card, even if it is in August!
Here is what I am arguing for: I believe that we need to intentionally express our delight in the ones we love on a regular basis, simply because we delight in them. When you do something out of the “have to” of obligations, that expression loses its value. It becomes meaningless. I suspect that expressions of delight like this in the ones we love, can only improve good relationships, and may even begin to heal struggling relationships.
Just so you know, this is not actually my own idea. It is a principle that has its root in the way God treats us as humans. Just think for a minute about the Old and New Testaments. They are in actuality a series of sixty-six “love letters” from God to mankind, which were written over many centuries to tell us about His love for man. He created man in His image, and for His own delight and glory. One of the key themes of the Bible is that “God is love,” and that is not just a cold analytical statement. It really means that God is so loving, and His love is so consistent, so profound and deep, so rooted in His character, that God is the ultimate standard of love, itself. So, when you and I delight in expressing our love toward our wives, not out of obligation or duty, then we actually reflect the very delight God has for man. In my way of thinking that is supremely better than buying my wife a dozen roses just because it is the day I am supposed to do that.
If anyone reading this is a Kindergarten teacher, or has ever been one, I want to make the statement that the names of former Kindergarten teachers and classmates have been omitted to protect myself, and please make my classmates put something nice in my bag!