My energy level was low and my mind fuzzy by the unfamiliar path I was on. Friends had supplied meals not only during the week of my husband’s funeral, but for days following. Finally, a trip to the supermarket was inevitable. You’d think that would be a simple task, but it wasn’t. My husband and I had grocery shopped together—even had a system at check-out and unloading bags from the car was a joint effort. So, one day, when I needed to get to the store, I drove, found a parking spot, and hiked what seemed like miles to the entrance. It’s what grievers refer to as “one more thing” to do.
I walked through the door unprepared for the sea of red, white, and pink. Balloons, bears, and greeting cards were displayed. Valentine’s Day signs shouted. As it turned out, the walk from the parking lot wasn’t the hardest, it was facing the romance advertised.
Although excited children exchange valentines in their personally decorated boxes, Valentine’s Day is a day emphasizing romantic and extravagant love. TV commercials promote gifts and romantic dinners. Flowers and chocolate sales soar. Store displays place Valentine’s Day front and center along with dazzling jewelry. Each year teen girls who don’t have a boyfriend, or adults single by design, feel the ache of exclusion and loss.
I found a shopping cart and shopped as fast as I could, remembering I would never buy a “For my husband” card again. I was sure if I didn’t move fast, my flood of tears at the checkout would alarm the cashier.
What Does Extravagant Love Look Like
Valentine’s Day wasn’t always the scene that it is now. The feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome. Later, the day became commercialized, associated with romantic love, flowers, gift giving, and cards, developing into the holiday we celebrate today.
Although the commercial trappings of the holiday may be extravagant and the focus, celebrating love is not a new idea. Jesus instructed us to “…Love one another…” (John 13:34) It’s an imperative that is the canopy for the fifty-nine “one anothers” in the New Testament.
What does that look like? A sampling shows us we love by…
- being “at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
- being “devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
- living “in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
- “honoring one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
- “serving one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
- “encouraging each other…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
- “carrying each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
- “praying for each other.” (James 5:16)
This is just the beginning. Look through the Bible for the many “one anothers”. You’ll find patience, communication, forgiveness, and hospitality as ways to express love. Like a fancy greeting card, love is written over each “one another”.
It may be Valentine’s Day on February 14 but loving one another in distinct and practical ways doesn’t know a calendar.
Which “one another” especially speaks to you? Perhaps living out one of these today will be the valentine you give as you follow Peter’s instruction to, “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 1:22 NIV)
That is extravagant love.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV