The day of love means so many different things to so many different people. What does Valentine’s Day 2016 mean to you?

Valentine's Day 2016
Source: DPC

Valentine’s Day is to love as Christmas is to family. At Christmas time, no matter where you may be, it’s a constant reminder of you and your family. That can be a very happy thing, or a very hard thing. For those who connect well with their families, who have family traditions, who have fond memories of what the season usually holds, it’s a time of true joy. However, if you don’t get along with your family, if you’ve had bad experiences in those areas, or even if a family member is no longer with you, Christmas is a time when you’re going to feel it more than ever. Everything in the atmosphere, in the shops, on the TV – it’s all pointing towards celebrating with the ones you love, and the ones who love you.

It’s the same with Valentine’s. Red roses abound, all the usual V-Day memes, all the couples going out of their way to show what their partner means, and a bit of extra pressure on the people who haven’t communicated their affections to their crush yet to get on that.

At Christmas, it doesn’t matter how you get along with your family – you remember you have one. At Valentine’s, it doesn’t matter how your experience with love is or has been – you remember that aspect of yourself is definitely still present.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, it’s no doubt that Valentine’s Day 2016 is influencing you to some degree. Whether you’re embracing it or shunning it like Ebenezer shuns the holiday season, the focus of this time is all on love.

So this year, what does Valentine’s Day mean to you? I guess it depends where you might find yourself.

New beginnings

John Paul Young let us all know that love is in the air. Nowhere is this more true than for new couples on the most romantic day of the year… well, according to commercial sales and marketing anyway. It’s exciting though. It’s still kinda new. A new world has been opened up. Before you used to do things by yourself – now you’re doing it with this new special friend. Holding hands is still a novelty, every joke is still funny, infatuation is in control. And you’re loving it.

I think this group of people gets hammered too harshly on V-Day, when the day is designed to celebrate exactly who you are and what you’re doing. Enjoy it. Enjoy each other. It’s a new season and it’s coming with stages, like the turning of pages. You’ll have enough jealous people bashing you on this day, so don’t let it get you down. It’s the day of lovers, and you should feel free to explore the heart of the person you’re getting closer to.

Committed lovers

Does your love stand the test of time? I guess that’s the question every couple is reminded of on V-Day. Does this day pass you by again as a reminder that you really need to pick up your wife’s favourite flowers (what were they again…?), that you really should deliver on the back massage you promised Mr Man, that you haven’t been away together in months or years and you really should do that again. Or maybe it’s the day where you as a couple decide to wait a few more days til all the excess flowers and chocolate go on sale, or that you don’t like someone forcing you to have to show affection to your spouse on that day especially, because you feel like you do it every day.

But I think it still serves to remind even the people who have been together for a long time of the blessing that love and partnership truly is. It can be so easy to take that for granted. We too easily forget the days where we didn’t have them in our lives, asking us how our day was, being there for us when everyone else left, and we so easily take for granted their mere presence is in our lives.

Old wounds

Like Christmas can bring up painful memories of difficult family situations, words spoken, words unspoken, or heartbreak, so too Valentine’s Day can be a painful reminder of the darker side of love. The break up, the divorce, the abandonment, the lies – love is tough. For every positive experience it can yield, it can also yield several painful ones. That may be with an ex, but it may even be with a current partner – it can be frustrating when you’re not feeling loved in the place you’re supposed to, by the person who’s supposed to be doing it.

The thing with love is it opens your heart to possibility. In order to fully embrace someone, to celebrate them, to cherish them, to whatever degree is appropriate for the level of relationship, the guards come down. That’s why when someone who gets close or even talks about getting close does something hurtful, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it can hurt you in a place you didn’t realize you had.

Valentine’s Day can be a day of pain, even where there has been forgiveness. You shouldn’t feel bad for that, I don’t think. Forgiveness doesn’t mean it never hurts again, it just means you’re not holding it against them anymore. I think especially if no attempt to reconcile has been made, it’s just gonna be a sucky memory when it flairs up again, and you’ll have to choose again that that person is a recipient of grace, just like you and me. People hurt each other all the time, and perhaps we’ve even been the ones to hurt others. V-Day is a sobering reminder of our humanity and frailty, as well as our need to be loved and accepted for who we are.

Missed opportunities

I’ve noticed that the opportunities that could’ve been can affect us to a similar level to other levels of pain. I’ve been really amazed over the years to have dozens of people admit how affected they were when an ex of theirs that they broke up with (especially when it was their decision) got married to someone else. Isn’t that amazing how we remember the people we pushed out of our lives by choice, and then days, months, even years later, you’re like Adele trying to say Hello From The Other Side. But possibly too late. The window of opportunity has closed, or you perceive it has closed.

I guess we don’t always realize what we have in our lives at the time, or maybe other circumstances lead us to make other choices.

Ah, but the darker things like insecurity, fear, loneliness, previous pain – all of these things that we leave unaddressed for too long are all too often the true reason we say no to love when it could be right. Why we stay closed. Why we don’t make time. Why we do everything alone.

V-Day is another sobering reminder for those in this category of taking chances, dealing with the issues of the heart, and selflessly putting others first. About honesty, about saying what you really mean, about following through on your commitments.

It’s hard to feel like you’ve missed opportunities if you always make sure you take them. Wherever you are, be fully there.

Uncommunicated affection

Perhaps the most annoying pressure for people who are shy and have not yet communicated their feelings – V-Day puts a spotlight on your silence in sharing your heart with the one you care about, or at least the one you think you may see some potential with.

What are you waiting for?

Life is really short. If you’re interested, if you think there’s potential there, why not take a shot? Louie Giglio points out in My Really Bad Date that the fear of rejection is what is often driving everything we do. Instead of taking a chance on love, we self-reject, we withhold, we keep to ourselves.

You don’t have to be single to be guilty of withholding affection, either. We can be with someone we hold dear to our hearts, and yet have withheld our true appreciation for who they are.

Life can be such a dark place. People are often overlooked, ripped off, misguided and carrying so many things. What a shame to have thought so highly about someone, and for them to never know about it.

Now boys and girls, remember to keep it to one at a time, think carefuly before hitting on someone else’s wife or fiance or boyfriend now. If you’re willing to start your relationship like that, the harsh truth is it’s likely that’ll be the same decision making process that will undermine that relationship later. What we sow is really what we reap. If you’re the other woman now, there may come a day when you’re complaining about the other other woman. If we mistreat people today, we’re not really sowing seeds of life or health in our relationships in the future.

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day 2016 is about love. Love is the greatest of all. Whether it’s been painful for us or really really great, love will conquer all. It changes the hearts of kings, it keeps a child safe from harm, it leads us into a life beyond ourselves. Wherever you find yourself this V-Day, let it be a day where love rules in your heart.

Let love take flight.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death,jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    the very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

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