Decorating a Valentines Day box from an old shoebox was one of my favorite things as I was in elementary school. I would use red construction paper, white lace doilies, tape, glue, and stickers to create just the perfect box. My Mom would cut a slit on the top of the box to put the Valentines cards. Once I finished the Valentine box, I would start to create Valentines Day cards for each of my classmates. Sometimes we’d put in the little heart-shaped candies that had a short message on them or little lollipops. We would have a party at school on Valentines Day with cupcakes or cookies, distribute the valentines that we had made for others, and we mustn’t forget one for our teachers! We sometimes would play games and have fun as we open the valentine’s cards that we received.
Over the years, Valentine Day’s experience changed, but the thought behind it has not changed. It is a day to celebrate love and friendship. The card industry, the candy and chocolate industry, jewelry stores, and retailers all try to buy into Valentines Day’s consumerism. Aren’t we called to love one another every day of the year and not just on one day? It’s not about the gifts; love is about everyday relationships with others, including those near and dear to our hearts.
As a reminder of what love is supposed to look like, I immediately go to the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians. We always hear this chapter at weddings, but are we listening or anxiously anticipating the fun we’ll have at the reception?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Are we living by these guidelines of how to love someone? Are we patient, kind, forgiving, not prideful, nor self-seeking? Are we slow to get angry? Let’s be kind to others because we don’t know what others are going through. Hold the door at the grocery store, be considerate in traffic jams, let others go before you in a line, text or email a friend, ask a neighbor if they’re ok, make a phone call to check in. There are countless ways that we can show love to others daily.
During this time of the pandemic and country concerns, much anger and hatred is evident in our society. We hear it every day on the news and the radio, or Facebook. There is bullying happening at school, in the workplace, and in almost every area in which we look.
There is a beautiful story about Valentine’s Day that I read years ago that sums up what we’re to look like when we show genuine love. I don’t know who the author was, but this example has stuck with me for years.
“Valentine’s Day was a few days away, so Joey and his Mother got out all of the decorating supplies to make his Valentine Box for school. His class was to exchange Valentine cards, and you have to have a decorated box to keep them in! Joey worked on his Valentine’s Box every day after school. When Joey finished his Valentine Box, he meticulously went to work on creating Valentine’s Day cards for all of the kids in his class.
Joey was much of a loner, and he was a little slower than the rest of the kids, and usually a target of bullying jokes. He didn’t have friends over to the house, nor was he invited many places to play. Joey was the last one from the bus daily and walked alone as gangs of kids in front of him were laughing and carrying on. He seemed to be a forgotten kid.
Joey’s mother was very concerned that he wouldn’t get any cards to fill his box, but that didn’t squelch Joey’s enthusiasm over making his Valentine’s Day box and individually made cards for his classmates.
Valentine’s Day finally arrived, and Joey packed his decorated box with all of the cards he had made for the other kids. Off he went to school, walking alone down the street as his mother watched from the window.
She planned to have a cold glass of milk and freshly made cookies prepared for him on the table when he returned from school, hoping to ease some of the disappointment he may feel with not getting any valentines.
Joey’s Mom heard the school bus on their road, and kids were disembarking and squealing and laughing, carrying their Valentine’s Day boxes that were filled with cards and treats.
At last, she saw Joey get off the bus. He was walking alone, as usual. He was carrying his box on his way home.
As he came in the door of the kitchen, Joey was greeted by his Mom, and he said “Not ONE, Mom. Not ONE!! I didn’t miss a ONE in my class’, as he happily put his empty box on the table.
You see, Joey’s joy came from giving and not receiving. He was elated that he made every single kid in his class a Valentine’s Day card, and hadn’t missed a single one.
Let’s all strive to be Joeys. Joey was more concerned about all of the other kids than he was about himself. It’s not about fancy cards and expensive gifts, jewelry, flowers, or material presents. It’s all about treating others with love, consideration, and compassion every day and our presence with them. “Love others as I have loved you”.
How can we project love and kindness to others today, and every day?
Be blessed to be a blessing to others,