I was eight years old the first time I felt the ‘love’ butterflies in my stomach. His name was Matt. I remember writing his name with hearts all over my spelling exercise papers. I would then quickly erase it as not to get caught by all those at my table. I knew that that skinny, blonde-haired boy was my one true love forever and ever.
Since that first crush, I’ve experienced love in many different forms. I’ve seen it. I’ve given it and had it taken away. I’ve hated it and dreamed of it. I’ve said yes to it in the form of the Sacrament of Marriage and yet still have so much to learn.
This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day – a day typically surrounded by flowers, marriage proposals, expensive dates, candy hearts, gifts and lots of love. Now, I could talk about St. Valentine and who he was (or wasn’t), but I really want to share a short reflection on something the Lord inspired in my own heart on love.
Most of us have read or heard the famous Scripture passage on love from St. Paul: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous…” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7) As I was reflecting on this verse the Lord placed a simple phrase on my heart: “If I do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2-3).
You might be asking: “Does this mean that if I’m not totally, madly in love and with the guy/girl of my dreams, I’m not going anywhere in life?”
“Does this mean that if I don’t already have a date to prom, I’m going to be alone the rest of my life?”
“Does this mean that if I’ve never been on a date, something is wrong with me and I’m un-dateable?”
No. This doesn’t mean any of that. Take a deep breath and relax.
What I believe the Lord is saying is that to know love is to simply know God. So often in my own life I’ve sought love out in other people. I spent a lot of time looking for acceptance and satisfaction in my relationships. It wasn’t until I reconnected with God in prayer and the sacraments that I truly understood how much he loves me. When I know (with both my head and heart) God’s great love for me, I am no longer nothing – I am someone. I am a daughter of God. I belong to Him. God’s love is not something to earn or try and possess, but something to be received as a gift. When I allow God to love me fully, even in the areas I am most ashamed of, I am brought into the fullness of life (John 10:10).
Whether you have a ‘valentine’ or not, take a few minutes this week to thank God for the beautiful gift of love and ask him to increase it in your own heart. Ask him to reveal to you those people who you need to love better. Make an effort to try and go out of your way to do something nice for them. Spend quality time reflecting on St. Paul’s passage on love (1 Corinthians 13: 1-13) and allow God to challenge your perspective on love to be more like His. Finally, remember that you have a God who is madly in love with you. You have a God who knows you intimately and will never leave you. You have a God whose love makes you someone.
Happy Valentine’s Day.