Agape

No matter how much I hope, where I run, or in which distraction I manage to engage, February 14th never falls off my calendar. February 29th is only forced on me every four years. February 30th just flat out gave up- but the 14th? Never misses a year.

My distaste for this particular “holiday” (shudder) has very little to do with the usual reasons cited by women for avoidance. I am not broke- I could buy sentimental, silly, juvenile cards. I’m not lonely- I could go out, order overpriced food, and sip expensive wine until I giggle. I’m not ugly- I could find a pretty dress, wear heels, and match my bag to both.

Jewelry is a nice adornment- to look at. I love movies- viewed from my couch and without the anxiety of a dark room crowded with strangers. And I have nothing against flowers, so long as they remain in the yard.

I am exhaustively familiar with all the typical justifications for participation. I can recite, from memory, the legend of St. Valentine.

My fellow Christians never fail to point to an entire book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, which was written almost exclusively about romantic love. Many of those same verses are printed by Hallmark, and sold to the same Christians for upwards of seven bucks. Somehow, verses make sense to millions of purchasers, Christian or otherwise, when printed on glittered cardboard and pink envelopes, even if it’s the only verse they will read for the entire year.

I realize I sound pointedly cynical  addressing this designated day of romantic celebration. I haven’t always avoided the second week of February.

On February 14, 1995, I was in love. Or so I thought. My judgement was clouded, my actions controlled by my misguided understanding of love.

Meir saw that I was not living in love. And for the next decade, she was persistent in her attempts to help me identify genuine, selfless love.

The Christmas decorations were still out at full price this year when retailers started putting out the red, pink, and white boxes of chocolate. I adore chocolate, but little tags of paper and heart shaped boxes do not convey love to me. What girl says “no” to flowers?? I do. Have you priced them lately? And all those verses written by someone else, stuffed in an envelope, barely signed? Please… just don’t.

I waited, with dread, for my son to broach the subject of the annual classroom party. January passed, and he still hadn’t brought it up.

I didn’t want to mention it. But I did have to ask. Maybe I’d missed the memo. He casually told me that there was no “party” planned this year. I was so overcome with relief, I barely heard what followed.

He wanted to know what he is “supposed to do” one day, hopefully far, far, faaaaaaaarrrrrr in the future, if he ever finds himself in a romantic relationship at this time of year. What should he buy? What should he write? How much should he spend?

All I could think was, “Oh, I am so not ready for this.” I never will be.

It seems it may be time to begin passing down some of Meir’s wisdom to my favorite little man, before he is in the throes of his first broken heart.

I believe all parents have a responsibility to teach their children the proper way to love all people. Ending a relationship in a respectful manner is just as important as establishing a new relationship.

It is crucial that we teach our children to recognize the difference between business and personal relationships. Money has everything to do with business relationships and nothing at all to do with a personal relationships.

If it is romantic love we need to express, we can write a few words every day (or week, or month). Telling someone you love them is still free.

Demonstrating sincerity builds trust. Maintaining trust is about consistency, not money. Maybe he is not a poet. Most of us aren’t. Maybe he doesn’t like to shop. Or when he does shop, his means are insufficient to fulfill her over-inflated expectations, fueled by Hallmark hype. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to build such expectations to begin with.

Encourage young people to do something different, with confidence, and don’t worry so much about looking silly. Being willing to put yourself out there will be endearing enough, to the right person. Wait for that person.

Agape love will always be the ultimate goal. Agape love is sacrificial. Sacrificial love is not an emotion, but a determination of will. Sacrificial love joyfully put the needs of others first. But because humans are innately selfish, selfLESSness is a character trait that must be taught, learned and then consciously applied.

If not for Meir gluing me back together way back then, I would’ve stood in the same checkout line, eager to pay a premium for love printed on glittered cardboard.

Instead, I’ve had twenty years to understand the basis of the things she was telling me- the same things I must now teach my son.  No amount of money, chocolate, jewelry, or flowers can ever purchase true, selfless, agape love.

There was, at one point, a price placed on that love. But God paid it when Christ shed it. And Hallmark will never even get close.

Be loved, Beloved. Be blessed, Y’all.

 

(c) 2015