How to Love on Ordinary Days
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day or, as I have heard some of my students call it, “Singles Awareness Day.” Loving is hard enough on an ordinary day, much less on a day devoted to the celebration of romantic love.
Valentine’s Day magnifies all the anxieties of love. It shines a light on relationships or the lack thereof and casts a pale shadow on all ill prepared expressions of love.
Do you have a valentine? What present did you buy? Was it the right present to convey the right idea or emotion? Flowers or not? Elegant dinner or casual dining?
Incredible pressure exists to get the expression of love just right.
Let us remember that all the challenges of Valentine’s Day help us learn how to love on ordinary days.
Learning how to love on ordinary days captures our attention. How do we respond to our spouses, children, friends, and neighbors in all the ordinary days of the year? What is the appropriate expression of familiarity and intimacy?
How loving should we be? How should we be loving?
Let me suggest a couple of encouraging truths about loving on ordinary days.
First, love always thinks of the other person first. Loving and selfish behavior do not create healthy relationships. Loving involves thinking of the needs of the other person before fulfilling one’s own needs.
Loving seldom involves the statement or silent thought, “I deserve this.”
Second, love creates new relationships. The selfless giving nature of love naturally attracts others. People hunger for acceptance and appreciation. Acting in a loving way creates opportunities to build trust between two people. Upon that trust, new relationships develop.
Third, love always forgives. Think about this one. It is hard to hold a grudge and put another person first in our lives. Forgiveness does not release a person from being responsible for his or her actions. Forgiveness does release us from the responsibility of their actions.
Forgiveness means deciding not to carry the consequences of someone else’s poor decisions.
Finally, love has no fear. When we act in a loving way, without malice or judgment or anger or prejudice, then we may act with a clear conscience. Acting out of love for someone else releases us from the fear of judgement.
Perhaps one of the finest statements of the nature of love ever can be found in 1 Corinthians 13.4-8. The people in the church in Corinth seemed to be having trouble getting along with each other, so Paul describes the way love works:
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13.4-8a, Common English Bible).
Do not worry about loving on Valentine’s Day. Focus on loving in all the ordinary days of the year. Once we love on the ordinary days, then loving on future Valentine’s Days will be a breeze.
How do you try to act in loving ways to people? Is there one loving thing you try to do every day?