Valentines day sometimes gets a bad rep. Like any other holiday, there is consumerism alongside all kinds of expectations.
Whether you like it, love it, or hate it, we will be spending the next week surrounded by roses and pink teddy bears and heart-shaped chocolates. The love songs will sound in stores, and our inboxes are already blowing up with holiday deals intentioned to lure wallets from our pockets.
It’s a day shrouded in tradition for many of us. And for some of us, it’s just another day on the calendar.
For me, Valentines Day tends to be an excuse to neglect my cooking responsibilities without feeling bad for spending the extra money. It’s the day I giggle when remembering the first gift Austin ever got me: a giant pink teddy bear holding a little red heart. And as of last year, it’s a day where we decided to do away with all of that. All of the things we expect this day to be are no more, and we are now making it into something else. Something better. A day full of excuses.
We use it as an excuse to take a break from “to-do” lists.
If you don’t read anything else in this blog post, read this: Valentines Day is an excuse!
Not the bad kind of excuse where we neglect responsibility, but a reason to do something we wouldn’t normally do. Taking a break is something we shouldn’t feel bad about. So you had a busy February 13th? Use the 14th to say, “oh well”.
When our household “to-do” lists grow, I usually hand each of us a box to check, we plug into our individual music or podcast, and work hard to check off tasks. It is good to be good stewards of our homes and lives. It is better to put those things in their place.
Valentines Day is a day when we can intentionally remove ourselves from all the stuff that has to happen. Focus on one another. Get out of the house if it’s a distraction. Take our eyes off the mess and focus on the marriage.
We use it as an excuse to remember our vows.
Pulling out our vows and go through them one-by-one isn’t something we do often, but it should be.
It doesn’t matter if you wrote them yourself, secretly jacked them off of a website, or just used the traditional version. These are the promises we made to our spouses.
While I would have never said it, my mind somehow assumed that those vows held a sort of magic. That once they departed my lips, I would suddenly become a master of their promises.
News flash: the saying of vows carries no magic power. They are promises that we utter for the first time on our wedding days and must spend the rest of our lives repeating. Marriage isn’t saying “I will…” once. It is saying it over and over and over again–especially when we don’t want to. Especially when we have had an extra challenging day or week or even year.
So use this valentines day to pull out those vows and promise once again. Use it to apologize for the vow that’s been a little extra challenging. Use it to recommit to one another. To say “I will” over again.
We use it as an excuse to document.
Austin doesn’t know this yet (I guess he will when he reads this before I post), but this year we are starting a new tradition.
A couple in our church has a notebook that they write letters to one another in every year. It’s a way to document their love, the promises they continue to make, and memories they may forget otherwise.
A month ago, as we celebrated five years of loving one another, we sat down and talked about each year. It’s amazing how quickly, even in five short years, memories begin to fade. And so we write. We write for remembrance of our love and recollection of God’s faithfulness.
We use it as an excuse to remember our wedding day.
There are few days that I’ve been more excited to know and love Austin Lee Groves than our wedding day. It wasn’t because the date was magical. It wasn’t because of the months of preparation. It wasn’t because of the color schemes we chose.
It was because of the confidence God gave me that day. After months of praying over our marriage and being discipled by women about becoming a wife, I was never more confident that something was God’s will for my life.
We were surrounded by people who had shaped our lives thus far. We were prayed over by hundreds of friends.
It was special.
It was the first day of a very imperfect, very real, very raw, and very wonderful adventure. There’s not a lot sweeter than going back and reliving that day for thirty minutes or so (shout out to short wedding ceremonies!). Reminding myself of that day reinvigorates all the feelings that it possessed. I’m so thankful for it, and I love finding the time to watch it unfold all over again.
Use it as an excuse to on an old fashioned date…
Once we got married, the whole dating thing seemed to disappear. Especially since our little one has yet to arrive, going out to dinner is just going out to dinner (I’ve heard that might change come May).
So we can use the day to do all the things that remind us of that sweet dating stage. Get ready on different floors–or rooms if you have a teeny tiny house like us. Budget ahead of time, and go to a fancy restaurant.
…Or to cook a fancy dinner from home.
And if an old fashioned date will be out of the budget, find a fancy dinner recipe on youtube and cook it together–like taking a cooking class. Get a sitter for the kids and bring date night indoors.
Either way, it’s more about the content of the date. Leave the scheduling subjects in your calendars and spend time getting to know one another even better–just like you might on a first date. Ask questions you think you know the answer to, and be surprised when you realize you didn’t.
Go through photos, and discuss the years.
Like watching a wedding video, going through photos can bring up some edifying memories. They can remind us of the sweetest of times, and they can remind of hard times. Look through pictures of each year you’ve known each other, reminiscing on the good and bad. Praise God for the lessons learned and the sanctification imprinted on all those years.
Whatever you do, use it as an excuse for intentionality.
So why Valentines Day? Why buy into the consumerism or the tradition of it all?
You don’t have to come home with a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates. You don’t have to paint the day in red and pink to be intentional.
Just do something.
Without intentionality, our marriages can turn into nothing more than domestic partnerships.
Without intentionality, we will sink into holes of scheduling.
Without intentionality, we become slaves to whatever satisfaction we find in day-to-day and forget the spark that started it all.
Without intentionality, the Gospel is something we hear on Sundays–not something that drives love for our spouses.
Without intentionality, we don’t get the full blessing that comes with this covenant relationship.
It is through intentionality that we vow our commitment daily. It is through intentionality that we remember God’s faithfulness. It is through intentionality that we make the other feel special, that we make one another feel known. It is only through intentionality that the good, bad, and ugly can press us forward to sanctification.
Valentines Day is not about an excuse to spend money. It is about an excuse to deliberately exercise love.
So use this Valentines day, and use it well. What better time to start loving one another better, more intentionally, more like Jesus, than now?