I’m a Valentine. I mean I was born on February 13th. That qualifies me as a Valentine, right? I’ve always loved pink and hearts. My birthday celebrations are typically associated with the great Day of Love. This year, after decades of Valentine birthday celebrations, I decided to research the history of Valentine’s Day. The bottom line: nobody really knows. What we do know is there were two or three saints named Valentine. Everything beyond that is legend. Each story a little more gory than the last. When I started reading about beating women with animal carcasses to assist with fertility, my research ended abruptly.
Why do I care about the history or alleged history of Valentine’s Day? The reason for my probing can be tied back to my fascination with love or what we call love.
I fell in love with my sons as infants and loved every stage of their growing up years. They are brilliant, generous, thoughtful and kind young men. I always believed I loved them well. When they arrived at adulthood my love for them was challenged. They began to live a life different than I expected. Believe things I didn’t believe. Walk down paths I had never walked. It’s so easy, fun, exhilarating to love people when they agree with you. My mother’s heart, this extravagant love I had poured out on precious babies, energetic little boys, talented teenagers, brilliant scholars and handsome young men hiccuped.
For the first time ever, I was learning what love looked like — love with no conditions; love that doesn’t require you to look, act, think the way I thought you would or should. My capacity to love extravagantly was being stretched. One of the most clarifying days of my life was the day my cherished sons took a different road than I. The conditions I had placed on my love were exposed. I was launched into learning the absoluteness of loving extravagantly. This is what makes me a Valentine - something expressing praise and affection - not my birth date. Loving recklessly is the sweetest place from which to love and be loved.*
*Please understand that I am not advocating you recklessly pour out your devotion to someone who is physically, mentally, or emotionally abusing you. That is a place for radical boundaries!