Valentine’s Day is a day that calls up all kinds of emotions if you’re single, most of them negative. No matter how much you convince yourself that it is simply a manufactured holiday which imposes a false sense of obligation on those who are coupled to spend money and drum up a sense of romance (which it is), it nevertheless manages to make you sharply aware of the fact that You Are Single and have no one to a) celebrate the day with or b) agree to not celebrate the day with. Either would be preferable to not having the option.
The day before Valentine’s Day, I felt massively convicted about my attitude. This wasn’t totally about the hearts-and-flowers day; I’d been in a somewhat negative frame of mind for some time. However, the central sense I felt was this:
I am so much more prone to wishing that someone would do something loving for me, than thinking of how I can do something loving for someone else.
I am so much more prone to wishing that someone would serve me, than thinking of how I can serve someone else.
I am so much more prone to thinking of my own needs and wants, than thinking of how I can help fulfill others’ wants and needs.
In short, I am self-centred and selfish far more than I am loving and giving and other-centred.
The lifestyle Jesus called us to live is one of radical selfLESSness. Of laying down our lives to love one another, even when we feel we aren’t being loved well. Of thinking of others first, rather than ourselves. Of seeking ways to serve, not waiting to be served. Of doing to others what we’d want them to do for us. Of course, he is the primary example of this.
“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Jesus is the one who has the most right to demand to be served. He is Lord. And yet, he came as a humble servant, giving, loving, and sacrificing, and in the end, giving even his life for us.
I realized a far better way to spend Valentine’s Day than sitting around wishing that someone would do something for me, was to find someone to do something for. So I did. I went to dinner with an older lady who lost her husband about a month ago. I brought her flowers and a card. I chatted to her and heard about her husband’s final days. She was immensely grateful. And you know what? It made my day.
I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. Rather, to say that by stepping out and thinking of what might bless someone else, I was blessed. And this is not meant to be a one-day-of-the-year thing. Rather, as followers of Jesus we are called to sacrificial, self-forgetting, giving love 365 days of the year, not just to our spouse, but to everyone, especially in the body of Christ but also outside it. I’m totally convicted that that is not normally the way I live and I need to do a lot more of it.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a follower of Jesus, you’d be surprised how much you get back from thinking of and doing something for someone else, something you wouldn’t normally do. Sometimes, rather than waiting to have our needs met, the secret to joy is actually figuring out how we can meet someone else’s.