Tomorrow we celebrate Valentine's Day, a day that has long been marketed as a day for lovers. The day of amour. We are bombarded with commercials selling flowers, chocolates, jewelry, etc, all things guaranteed to romance that special someone you love.
And we ladies in particular wallow in it. I must admit that Valentine's Day has held a special place in my heart for a long time--17 years to be exact. It was on February 14, 1997 that my husband asked me to be his bride. And of course, his proposal was wildly romantic. A dozen sweetheart roses. Cards. A teddy bear. He even rented a tux to wear to our college's Valentine's Day banquet, an event I had helped to plan. Following the candle-light dinner and entertainment, we drove to Lake Red Rock, the exact sight of our second date....the night we officially became a couple (please don't read into that anything more than the fact that, after our date, he asked me to be his girlfriend. That's it. There was nothing sordid about that night). We sat at a picnic table overlooking the dam and spillway; he lit some candles, produced some sparkling cider and champagne flutes, and wrapped us in a big blanket to help us keep warm. After playing a couple of "our songs" on a little radio he'd also brought along, he got down on one knee--in the SNOW--and asked me to marry him. Of course I cried (but anyone who knows me knows that it doesn't take much for me to cry) and hastily, excitedly said yes. It was all so special and very romantic.
But during the years prior to meeting Troy, Valentine's Day was anything but wonderful. It was a day I loathed to a great degree. After all, nothing can make you feel more alone than being constantly reminded that you don't have anyone special in your life.
To the widows, divorced individuals, or never marrieds, I imagine Valentine's Day feels like a super secret club they aren't allowed to participate in. They can stand at the gate and see how great things look, but they're not welcome to enter.
Here in Mexico, however, I was reminded that Valentine's Day is not just about romantic love. Tomorrow throughout the country, we will celebrate--not Valentine's Day--but "Día de Amor y Amistad", literally translated "Day of Love and Friendship". This is a game changer that includes everyone.
By celebrating the day of love and friendship, we recognize that there is more kind of love out there than just romantic love. Sure, romantic love feels great and is something that everyone longs for. But it's not the only, nor do I believe it's even the most important love there is.
The Greeks have several classifications of love. Everyone is familiar with romantic love--or eros. It is the passionate love we feel for our husbands, wives, boyfriends, or girlfriends. It is based solely on emotion, omitting all reason. I tend to believe it is also a more selfish kind of love.
The second type of love is philia. It is a mental type of love that is usually between friends. There isn't anything romantic or passionate about this love. We feel loyalty and appreciation for our friends in a give-and-take relationship. Philia love is typically not selfish in nature.
Storge is the love parents feel for their children. In a healthy parent-child relationship, it closely resembles the last type of love, agape love.
Finally, the highest form of love, I believe, is agape love. This love is completely selfless and seeks the well-being and happiness of another without expecting anything in return. This is the love of God toward His creation--as we're reminded in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the earth that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." God gave us the freedom to choose--to love and serve Him....or not. We are encouraged throughout the Pauline epistles especially to seek--with God's help--to love each other in this way. The best marriages are ones where the husbands and wives have moved past eros and have encompassed agape love toward each other. Each one seeking to build up and encourage each other without expecting anything in return. Selfless, not always insisting upon having one's own way.
I think as long as we only focus on the emotional kind of love, we set ourselves up for problems. We don't always feel that wildly romantic emotional high that we did upon first meeting our spouses or significant others. It takes more than just passionate love to make a relationship last. And when we completely romanticize all types of love--forgetting that the close bond we can have with our friends is also a form of love, we do ourselves and them a great disservice. As I've said before, not everything in life is about sex.
Tomorrow, I encourage you to be mushy with your husband or wife. That's never a bad thing. But let's not discount all of the other meaningful relationships in your life. Be sure to let your close friends and family members know that you love and care about them as well. Remind them that they are a special part of your life and deserve to be celebrated tomorrow, too.
After all, by celebrating the "Day of Love and Friendship", we further confirm that there is indeed more than one kind of love--and they are all worth celebrating.