No One-Sided Christmas, Please.

I find Valentine’s Day…weird.  It’s not because I’m single, nor is it because I’m so cynical that I only see it as a Hallmark Holiday.  I think I dislike it because it cheapens love.  Reduces romance to a pressurized, once-a-year event in which they guy is supposed to make the girl feel like the most special person in the world and she is expected…well, let’s be honest:  she’s expected to put out.  Except for those folks who are trying to have healthy dating relationships in which case all of the pressure is on the man.  I recently heard it described as “a one-sided Christmas.”  No kidding.  From what I’ve witnessed in the last few weeks with my friends as they make their Valentine’s Day plans, it is an elaborate, expensive, nerve-wracking performance. My question is,why?

Why do we as a culture spend so much effort and money building up this one day?  One, single day out of 365 that is somehow meant to define how successful a relationship is?  Why can’t couples already be convinced of their love and appreciation of each other?  I get that it is nice to do special things sometimes, but really, if you don’t express your love for your significant other frequently and convincingly, your relationship is most likely toast.

But on the other hand, I get it.  It’s an event, one to look back on and remember that someone went above and beyond to prove their extravagant love.  It is hard to convince someone you love them.  I am unconvinced a lot of the time, especially when it comes to Jesus.  And when has he ever not loved me perfectly?

I find it so hard because I, as a human, am used to conditional love.  Being loved for things that add something to my friends’ lives.  For my brains, my sense of humor, my passion for life, my capacity to love others.  If you take a very deep look at any of your relationships, there is always a reason for love.  A condition.  But before Jesus, all of that is stripped away.  I have nothing to offer him that he needs.  He is whole and complete, in and of himself.  What little I have to offer other people is flawed at best; everything he does is perfect.  He has no reason to love me.  But still he does.  Why?  I do not understand.

Not until I remember what someone named John wrote a few thousand years ago:  God is love.

Quick disclaimer:  This doesn’t mean that God is something like the force, and everyone who celebrates today is somehow tapped into that force.  I think his love is so much bigger, more passionate, and more powerful than we have the natural ability to replicate.  It HAS to be.

Rather, it means that he is the very embodiment of love.  That his character is defined by love.  And this means that he loves me, not because I am so worthy or deserving, but because it is simply who he is.  This I also know:  his love transforms me into someone wholly deserving of love.  And it is not a one time event.  It is a messy, beautiful, painful, rewarding 365-day-a-year commitment.  One that is SO worth it and so much better than a one-sided Christmas.