pastoral/spiritual care

Different Kinds of Love

“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.” 
--Benjamin Disraeli

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Do you buy flowers or chocolates?  Give your sweetheart a romantic card?  Go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant or buy tickets for an exotic weekend getaway?  Surprise your loved one with diamond earrings or a heart-shaped necklace?  Judging by all the advertisements on television, in newspapers, on the radio, and all over the internet in February, these are just about your only options.  With its pink and red hearts everywhere, Valentine’s Day brings with it a very narrow definition of love.  Love is the exclusive domain of beautiful, happy couples in romantic settings.  Where does that leave the rest of us?

All those lovey-dovey commercials may fill us with envy, but deep down we know that what they are portraying is a pretty shallow image of love.  It pales in comparison to the real expressions of love we see and participate in every day.  Love is not always pretty or romantic.  Love is the mother waking up in the middle of the night to tend to a child with a stomach virus.  Love is the friend who sends you a funny card when she knows you are having a rough week.  Love is the nurse dealing gently with his patient’s complaints, knowing they are really coming out of the anxiety about tomorrow’s surgery.  Love is the neighbors who hear about your wife’s chemotherapy and volunteer to take your kids for a few days, before you even thought to ask.  Love is the coworker who gives you a pat on the back at just the moment you needed it.  Love is the doctor who delivers bad news with compassion and kindness that make it more bearable.  Love is the family members who decide to donate their loved one’s organs so that others can receive the gift of life.  And flowing through them all, the driving current is the God who is Love.

One famous description of love is found in the Bible, in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."  It is not the sort of thing you will see in a jewelry store advertisement, but that is true love, the kind worth celebrating every day.

God, you are the source of all love that is true.  Give us hearts to keep loving, even when it is difficult, and eyes to see the ways you show love to us every day, often through other people.  We give you thanks for your great gift of love.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

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