It’s widely held that St. Valentine’s Day honors a priest named (you guessed it) Valentine who lived in Rome in the third century. According to one account, he was killed for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Another story relates that the imprisoned Saint Valentine sent a letter to a young woman he fell in love with, signed “from your Valentine.” In either narrative the lore surrounded this day has to do with romance and love.
In the interest of true transparency, I’m not a big fan of the Valentine’s Day of the 21st century. I think it’s become a “holiday” where people (mostly men) are made to feel like they have to buy the “significant other” in their lives something awesome that could be bragged about around the proverbial water cooler. Something like: “this is what my wonderful husband (boyfriend, wife, girlfriend, partner) got me”. I love celebrations and holidays but when gifts are presented because they have to be there’s a problem. When something isn’t given from the heart, the offering doesn’t have the same “value”. When my six-year-old grandson, Ethan, brings me a card he’s made, or a handful of flowers he’s picked out in the garden, I feel loved. Those gifts are sincere tokens of how he feels. I’d much rather receive one genuinely given daisy than anything someone felt they had to give me.
Expectations really trip people up and it’s not just on the side of the recipient. Most of us have had the experience of giving something, doing something or saying something with a specific expectation of what that result will be. When that hasn’t happened we often feel like “what was the use?” Conversely, if we have huge expectations about what we’re going to receive and we don’t get that thing, we think, “does that person care about (love, know, hear) me at all?”
Thinking about Valentine’s Day, led me to thinking about hearts—not the plastic ones stuck in bouquets of overpriced flowers or the ruffled, in your face, ones that are on boxes of chocolates—but our hearts.
In our humanness, out hearts can become closed off by pain.
So, we shut down to protect ourselves from being hurt again.
Our spirit can get crushed (or at least badly bruised).
Then, we get to a place where we’d rather put an invisible shield around ourselves than risk the pain of heartbreak again. The problem is, that by shielding our hearts, we lose out on so much life has to offer.
I’m not suggesting that we allow people who have “broken” us to do it over and over again. It’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves—to protect ourselves from harm. Sadly, in many homes, hearts are not protected. Where there’s sadness, pain, loneliness and heartbreak, it’s next to impossible to have a peaceful home.
A home full of broken hearts is a home that’s broken and, therefore, without peace.
If you’re in a heart-broken place, would you be willing to take a chance, let a little light in and, love again?
What if you open yourself to the possibility that someone who knows you wants to help you heal your wounds?
What if that person is someone you already know?
What if you take a chance and allow yourself to be vulnerable?
What if you choose to respond differently to something that you’ve always responded to from a place of pain?
Take a risk and open your heart to another human being. Choose someone you believe you can trust and who has a vested interest in you (this isn’t the same as someone you hang out with all the time but never have a meaningful conversation with).
Then, say something heartfelt to someone you love. You may just help unfreeze another’s heart.
Relationships of substance are wonderful teachers.
They instill in us to ability to discern what we need to cling to—what’s most important to us— and what we can “set aside” (very different from doing the “shut up and deal”).
They are practical lessons on what it’s like to be “real” with someone who wants to really know us.
Relationships built on love, trust and honestly allow you to see God in another human.
And, how wonderful is that?
“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.”
This is a beautiful Native American saying.
Let’s pursue what captures our hearts.