Updated: Feb 12
Valentine’s Day is, first of all, a Christian holiday—practitioners being of the opinion that romance and love are divine ideas. We may never know the authoritative origins of the holiday, but we do know what it is all about. In 1967, John Lennon told us. All you need is love, he said. Paul McCartney may have helped him express the idea.
Jesus, of whom Lennon once spoke, is on the record as agreeing with the former Beatle. The Nazarene said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.”
The state of the world tempts me to shake my head—what with all the hating going on. Some of it offered up by people who claim to follow the carpenter. Imagine that. I just can’t fathom the contradiction. A true son emulates his father. An apprentice adopts the skills, values, and worldview of his master. If he is master, that is.
I know we’re all a work in progress. He’s not finished with me yet, says the bumper sticker. So, grace all around, I think. Jesus bought a round of grace for the house, so… here’s mud in your eye.
Since I can’t do a lot about the state of the world, maybe I can contribute a little love to the people I spend time with. I spend the most time with Sheri. She’s my Valentine.
Our next anniversary, in about six weeks, will mark our 39th year. God, I love that woman. Now, I’m not relegating God’s name to a mere explicative. I mean it literally. God, Creator, I Am, I really do love her. And I give You the credit for enabling me to love even a little.
I need to give credit because I’m basically selfish and self-centered. It comes naturally to me. But I’ve tried to move beyond my natural state. And I’ve had help along the way.
Some of the help came from a God who has relentlessly pursued me with love He was willing to demonstrate, and much came from Sheri herself. She modeled it for a long time before it began to take. I’m sure she wondered if it ever would, though she never said so out loud.
In a small way, this blog, my podcast episodes, and Authentic Man School are acts of love. I love the people who shared the wisdom the material contains. Henry Cloud, Lou Tice, Martin Seligman, Carol Dweck, these are the names of some people who loved. So, like them, I am motivated to pass on what I’ve received.
I once did a wedding on a beach where I told the bride and groom the following, “The footprints on this sandy beach will succumb to wind and tide, but the steps that you’re taking today will leave tracks that will last for all eternity. Perhaps those tracks will impact family, and career, and friends—but most certainly they will impact the two of you. You see, your ‘togetherness’ is a unique arrangement, and a special opportunity. But as you form this new branch in your family tree, it’s important to remember you didn’t get here alone. Your love flows out of your parent’s love, which in turn flows out of the love that your grandparents shared. In fact, going back ten generations reveals over 2000 ancestors who lived… and who loved. Go back twenty generations, and over 2 million people were involved in setting the table for today’s wonderful event. If we were able to graph your family tree back to the beginning of the human race, we’d discover something very interesting. At some point, the expanding number of ancestors must defer to the population on the planet, and the pool of progenitors begins to diminish with each preceding generation… until we are left with two: a man named Adam, and a woman named Eve. Her name was Eve, not Lucy. No matter how sophisticated we moderns become, it’s incredibly important to remember the Divine Architect, and not exclude Him from His own creation… because before there were two… there was one. Adam took breath before Eve.
Our confused world seems so infatuated with being naughty that it must come as a surprise to many people that all of this ‘being fruitful and multiplying’ is, and always was, God’s idea. He invented the sociology, and yes—the biology, of this event. He did so with a special relish, I think. In the Genesis story, God recognized that it was not good for Adam to be alone. But the next event in the dialogue is not the creation of Eve. No, God—of all things—makes Adam go to work. So, Adam goes off to his cubicle, takes inventory, and names the animals. He watches as those first animals pair up, nuzzle, and make their way into the perfect privacy of that primal canopy. He saw the first equines nicker, touch noses, and canter away. He saw the first geese call, and launch the flight of a lifetime. He saw the first bugling elk, the first strutting sage grouse. And undoubtedly, he noticed that he had no partner, and aloneness was born in Adam.
Then he was ready. Eve would not be like a sibling he had always known, created simultaneously, his female twin. No, she would be a gift and a treasure. Adam would always remember what it had been like to be without her. I believe God watched Adam’s face that day, and when longing was born in Adam’s eyes, God smiled.
God did all this for a reason. Finite man can hardly begin to understand an infinite God, so God created the miracle of marriage so that we humans might unravel something of the mystery of Divine love. The point of all this is… you are going to show each other God.”
Yep, that’s what I told them. And when I tie the knot, I tie it tight—they’re doing splendidly. Two wonderful sons, fine home, successful career. I’m pleased.
Did I mention that the wedding was for my son and daughter-in-law? No? No matter. The only thing that matters is that they love, and that maybe their parents helped them to find expression in that category. You see, before they were Valentines, four other people were.
And that’s enough. Love is. Because that’s all there really is. Everything else crumbles and blows away.
Happy Valentine’s Day
How does one love in the workplace, or in a fraternal organization? Love is a word loaded with all kinds of baggage. For some, the idea itself is awkward. Perhaps it will help clarify if we remember that love is a verb. It’s something one does. The chorus of a 1995 tune by Babbie Mason gives a clue:
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is humble all of the time.
Not easily angered, enduring the test, love is the more excellent way.
Affirmation of the Week: I love. I love my significant other. And I love the less significant ones, too. I love.