Valentine's Day... in theory, it is the "romantic" holiday...
...and I've mostly NEVER made a big deal out of it.
And that didn't really surprise people who knew me. For most of my life, I've always showed up as a "thinker" on those personality assessment (you know, Myers-Briggs etc. - see our family personality profiles in the sidebar if you are curious) - until about 11 or 12 years ago, when my score began migrating from the "thinker" to the "feeler" side of the continuum. Maybe that movement had something to do with all those hormones associated with 9 pregnancies, maybe just becoming and growing into my position as "the mama," or perhaps God started "gentling" me before He clued me in to the fact that that was what He intended to do. It wasn't that I was never a romantic at heart - because way down deep, I really always have been... Maybe that is just part and parcel of being a person who tends to show love with words... or maybe it is that I'm a member of the "fairer" sex with little girl dreams about a prince charming and having someone who loves her THAT. MUCH. It just didn't feel safe or secure to let others see that place inside me...
...to let it be known that things like flowers and words in a pretty card do speak to me, for then it hurts when no one even makes the effort to show they care about me in that way. And frankly, until Tim ran over and then ran off with my heart, I never fussed about that too much (and maybe that's because my daddy always made a fuss over me). These days, since Tim's just as happy with stroganoff, a Mountain Dew and some computer time or something crossed off his "honey-do-list," it is easy to think, "Why should I bother?" with some sort of sappy and over-priced card, expensive chocolates or some huge traditional romantic show, especially if he hardly notices it and those things are harder to come by in Niamey than they are when Walmart is just down the road.
I tried to make a big deal out of Valentine's Day once... I remember precisely because it was SUCH. A. FLOP... February 14, 1998... Tim and I had been married for just over 3 years...
I wanted to surprise him, but was stumped regarding what to do and then I heard an announcement on the radio: a free cross country ski by moonlight around one of our favorite areas and one of Michigan's many beautiful locales. It was taking place less than 2 hours away (which would be an excuse for dinner out) and we'd given each other cross country skis and boots for Christmas, so it seemed perfect... too good to be true, in fact. I arranged for grandparents to babysit Brendan and Rebekah... started creating perfect romantic images of what everything would be like in my mind... and my anticipation began to build...
Sometime during the night of February 13th, it started to rain - one of those warmer, lingering drizzles that reminds you of the first days of spring. The snow started melting. It continued raining. The snow continued melting. I called the nature center that was organizing the event. Their words: "If we can't ski, we'll go for a beautiful moonlit hike." So I stubbornly continued with thoughts of Plan "sorta" A.
As you've probably already guessed, our "romantic escapade" was lightyears away from surpassing my expectations... It ended up raining all evening, one of the kids was sick so we skipped the going out for dinner part and had pizza with the kids at my parents'. Then we drove up to Cadillac, probably fussing at each other because he really couldn't see the point in going and me grumpy that the weather (i.e. God) hadn't seen fit to rubber stamp my plans. It was still raining in Cadillac. There was no visible moon and thanks to the rain and clouds, we couldn't even see the trails. Nothing appealed to anyone about the idea of hiking by flashlight still-mostly-frozen-but-starting-to-get-muddy trails snuggled with your special one under an umbrella, and so the organizers found a romantic comedy which they projected on the wall of the welcome center, a bunch of valentine-ish treats, wine and sparkling juices in cheap plastic goblets... and we spent the evening with 6 or 8 couples that we'd never seen before and would never see again, watching a movie Tim and I had already seen and didn't really care for... mildly irritated with each other but not knowing how to gracefully walk away from the mess... and Tim, although quite long-suffering through that particular romantic catastrophe, still gets those worried wrinkles between his eyes any time I say I want to plan an evening for the two of us and immediately silences any Kenny Rogers crooning (my sappy music of choice) when it begins in his presence... 'cause he's learned better. He'd definitely rather go camping for a few days at the game park than sneak away to the cabanas down by the river...
So - Valentine's Day? I haven't bothered for years... but... I've got all these little girls all in various stages of the process of turning into little women... who are enamored, some more and some less, with this idea of "romance."
What is romance?
A romance is etymologically a story written in the language ‘of Rome’. The word comes from Old French romanz, which denoted ‘something written in French (as opposed to classical Latin)’. This went back to the Vulgar Latin adverb *rōmānicē ‘in the local vernacular descended from Latin’ (contrasted with latinē ‘in Latin’). This in turn came from Latin rōmānicus ‘Roman’, a derivative ultimately of Rōma ‘Rome’. In practice, these medieval vernacular tales were usually about chivalric adventure, and that was the starting point from which the modern meaning of romance, and its derivative romantic (1700s), developed. The original sense survives in the linguistic term Romance, denoting languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc that have evolved from Latin. (from wordorigin.com)
That definition is definitely less than "enamoring..." On the other hand, there are many dreamier and more idealistic definitions of "romance" that I've come across, including:
- the feeling of being transformed by the love and desire of another.
- the excitement of the chase, capture and eternal imprisonment of a heart.
- the feeling of becoming more complete as you find missing puzzle pieces in another.
- the feeling of having one's most important relationship needs met by another person, and wanting to meet his or her needs in return.
What do I teach my little girls... or even my boys... about "romance?" What am I to think of this yearly spot on the calendar where romance is widely celebrated?
I don't have any answers, really... except that it is okay to strive for something that I know I'll never achieve on my own, something that is mysterious and so far above me. It forces me to look to Christ alone, as He meets my needs and as He works through me in meeting needs in the lives of those I love...
#801 pondering love and what it means even if afterwards I have more questions than I did when I started
#803 dancing dragons, clanging cymbols and flashing fireworks ~ all at the same time!
#804 little girls who never stop smiling
#805 watching my kids learn about friendships
#807 watching people I love try something I love for the first time, and seeing just how much fun they had
#808 knowing that God's love transforms, from the inside out
#809 my heart eternally captured and captivated by my Savior
#810 seeing how God has used our marriage to complete, and then how He is the ultimate completer
#811 desiring to serve another and then realizing that such desire shows God's handiwork in my heart