Happy Valentine's Day! The smell of love, flowers and candy fill the air. Whether it's love for your spouse, your children, parents or a best friend, everyone has someone they can share a small token of love with.
But what is love? According to Dictionary.com, it is "a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person." Yet, that definition doesn't seem to fully portray what love is; at least not to those of us who have experienced true love.
And yet, love is a word that too many people tend to forget the significance of.
The word love is found 551 times in the Bible (NIV).
The greatest commandment, in fact, deals with love. In Mark 12:28-31, we find a teacher asking Jesus, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Jesus answers by saying, "The most important one is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."
True love can be had between a husband and wife, a parent and a child, siblings, and even best friends. But, of course, we most often think of love when we think of our spouse.
God even gives us explicit instructions on how we are to love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, and 13 (New International Version) "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
But what happens to love? Why do we "fall out of love?"
People don't cease to grow and change just because they get married. As adults, we pass through different stages and filters of life, and those stages and filters continue to shape us. Your spouse is not the same person at 35 as he/she was at 25, and neither are you. You have to learn to grow together and not grow apart.
Statistics show that 50 percent of all first-time marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of all second marriages end in divorce and 73 percent of all third-time marriages end in divorce. And, believe it or not, statistics also show that couples who live together, before getting married, have an even a higher percentage rate of divorce.
Marriage counselors and psychiatrists instruct couples to continue to "date" each other. Don't become so preoccupied with work, children, household chores and responsibilities that you find you don't have time for each other. Dating and falling in love seemed easy, but staying in love takes "work."
Now, go out and "date" each other. Plan more time together, schedule date nights, go see a movie and have dinner, or curl up on the couch and watch a movie together at home. Keep your love alive (or bring it back to life).
But whatever you do … have a Happy Valentine's Day. And if you don't have a "significant other" to celebrate with then find someone to send something special to. Try to think of someone that might not get a gift from someone else ... your neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or the widow down the street. What if the only thing that they get, is your gift? Imagine the smile on their face!
And THAT is what love is all about!