C.S. Lewis friendship

Love is More Than This

6:00:00 AMEvelyn Hildebrand

Perhaps you have noticed the current trend to re-label Valentine’s Day as Singles’ Awareness Day. In conversations or messages tinted with bitterness, Valentine’s Day is equated with Singles’ Awareness Day so that if you do happen to be alone and eating tuna with your cats on the most romantic day of the year, you won’t be offended.

Singles’ Awareness Day. It is a flashing neon sign screaming VACANCY. It is the screeching note of a culture rooted in the lie that we are nothing if we don’t have someone. It is the whining of a selfish child begging, “Pay attention to me.”

I can understand where the idea of changing the name of the holiday to Singles’ Awareness Day comes from. There are some who, whether through the loss of a spouse, a divorce, or a break-up, are spending Valentine’s Day alone and suffering. However, denying the existence of the romantic holiday is not going to alleviate their suffering, it only glosses over it. Besides, the title of Singles’ Awareness Day is often thrown out in bitterness—as if singleness were an incurable disease one hates to be reminded of and yet feels the need to educate others about. 

But singleness is not a disease and we are missing the point.

In the invention of an alternate unsentimental inoffensive name for the romantic holiday, we show a lack of understanding about what Valentine’s is truly about. Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in order that we may feel loved, but that we may love others in a special and intentional way. C.S. Lewis speaks of several different types of love in The Four Loves. One of these loves, which he refers to as “Need-love” is when
 “the beloved is seen in relation to our own needs, just as the scullery tap is seen by the thirsty man or the glass of gin by the alcoholic.” 
There is a craving for some object that we sense a need to possess. Calling Valentine’s Day Singles’ Awareness Day is a perfect example of this “Need-love.” Each and every one of us is longing to be loved by someone else and when we don’t have a romantic other to share this special day with, we call out for notice. We feel that we need someone to come and to love us. And that desire is good. It is normal, even. But it isn’t all that love is.

When I was a little girl, Valentine’s Day was the most creative holiday of the year. My mom would help my siblings and I to craft little notes, and sometimes treats, for all of our friends, and we would exchange them with glee. It was exciting to think up a brand-new pun for a valentine card, such as a picture of a bear with a heart that said, “I love you beary much!” There were craft supplies—lace doilies, red paper, and glitter—strewn all over the kitchen table. Heart-shaped cookies baked in the oven and later were frosted, sprinkled, and placed in little bags to take to friends.

At the same time, my siblings and I did understand that there was a special appeal about the holiday for my parents—my dad always bought my mom roses and my mom always baked him a cherry pie—but there was no emphasis on the need for romance. There was no selfish need-love. There was no asking for attention. Instead, my parents delighted in doing special things for each other on Valentine’s Day. Their example rubbed off on me.

Lewis also speaks of a “Gift-love,” where we pour ourselves out for the beloved and are transformed more closely into the image of God.  Lewis writes: 
“Among our Gift-loves those are most God-like which are most boundless and unwearied in giving.  All the things the poets say about them are true. Their joy, their energy, their patience, their readiness to forgive, their desire for the good of the beloved—all this is a real and all but adorable image of the Divine life.” 
In this idea, Lewis is explaining that a truer form of love is giving of myself for the good of someone else. This is the type of love that my parents express to me not only in the Valentine’s gifts they give each other, but every time they serve each other in the difficulties of daily life, and this “Gift-love” is exactly what Valentine’s Day is all about.

Valentine’s Day is a day to remember those we love and to go out of our way to show them that we care.

So even though I am twenty-two and didn't have a hot date scheduled for Saturday, I still celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

I wrote notes to my friends.  

I went to dinner with my mom. 

I baked a heart-shaped loaf of bread.  

And I am happy for those of my friends who are in relationships and appreciate that there is a special day for them to deepen their love for each other. 

Valentine’s Day is about giving of ourselves to others.

There is no need to re-label this holiday. Valentine’s Day is its proper name.

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Stasia Phillips - Guest Author 

I desire to live simply and authentically, embracing the world with wonder. I draw inspiration from good books, my faith, hazelnut lattes, and conversations with friends. Read more of my writing at my blog entitled Sometimes My Hands are Cold.

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