This guest post comes courtesy of my sister. Whether your care about Valentine’s Day or not, it’s a good reminder for every day: Where there is no love, put love, and there you will find love.
By Sarah Baker
(This post originally appeared here. But my sister’s pretty cool, and she said I could borrow it.)
Any of my friends or family will tell you that I abhor Valentine’s Day. And they’re partly right. I’ve said so every single year since…ever.
But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this year. It’s just a day. One day out of 365 days on the calendar. It’s the feast day of a great Catholic martyr, St. Valentine. And it’s a day to celebrate love, which is a beautiful thing. So why on earth am I so vehemently against it?
After some serious introspection and personal reflection and prayer, I’ve come to the conclusion that the feelings I have against it are purely selfish: I am bitter.
I’m bitter about never having gotten flowers or chocolate or gifts from anyone (other than my Mom, who is the best Mom in the world!*).
I’m bitter about never having been on a romantic dinner date with the love of my life.
I’m bitter about the fact that while my friends are out having love showered upon them I am at home (or usually at work covering for them so they can go on their dates) feeling lonely and unloved.
And then I had a major catharsis: I am the biggest hypocrite that ever lived. I am wallowing in self pity because I feel unloved, but what am I doing to love others? How can I expect to feel loved if I am unwilling to give love away? The funny thing about love is this: The more you give, the more you receive in return. My personal hero, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, said it best: “I have found the paradox: that we must love until it hurts; then there is no more hurt, only love.”
And a further cathartic moment led to this realization: I may not have received Valentines from human men, but every single day I am blessed with the gift of life and the ability to see the beauty of the world I live in.
I may not go on romantic dinner dates, but every single day I have the ability and blessing to attend Holy Mass and receive Christ, the King of my heart, into my very body, into my soul.
I am alive and I am healthy. I like to think I’m intelligent, and I know that I am beautiful because I am exactly how my Creator made me. I am surrounded by family and friends. I’d say all of that is reason enough to believe that I am loved.
So with all these amazingly lovely feelings welling up inside me, I made a decision. This year I won’t let Valentine’s Day get me. I will go on a “date” with Jesus in the form of Holy Mass and a holy hour. I will get dressed up for no reason other than to make even more beautiful the physical body God gave me and delights in. I will go and see a movie, even if it is by myself. And I will make sure to tell my friends and family how much I love them regardless of the Valentine’s well-wishes I get.
Because at the end of the day it matters not what others do for me, but what I do for them. Isn’t that what loving others is really about? It’s not the emotions or the warm fuzzy feelings associated with those we love, it’s the decisions we make to place them before ourselves and to think of their needs and desires first.
So to all my friends and readers, and especially those of you who are also single, let’s try to make this a selfless holiday, in which we embrace the true meaning of love and make a conscious effort to give that love to those around us.
It’s like your own personal Valentine’s Day challenge.
I dare you.
Sarah Baker is a nurse living in Texas, who blogs at How to Survive Online Dating.
*LifeintheGap heartily concurs.