Today, it’s basically ironic to think of Valentine’s Day as anything other than a romantic celebration. But for the majority of its existence, the holiday was intended to honor men who died for the sake of their faith in Christ.
So now I wonder: Can Valentine’s Day be used to celebrate love for all people, in brotherly and sisterly ways? I say it should. Because simply, loving God means loving others.
As a follower of Christ, I am fascinated with the way Jesus answered this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
I acknowledge the Bible is full of things I have a hard time understanding or accepting, yet I continue to believe despite my lack of competence. But seriously, the thought of truly loving my neighbors (everyone else beside me) as much as myself may be the most difficult part to grasp.
Is it even possible? And yet, Christ said that is the 2nd greatest commandment.
Man, that’s tough. It’s definitely easier said than done for a guy like me who has enough issues battling selfishness when it comes to my own flesh and blood: my beautiful son.
If I can’t get over myself enough to love my son like I should, how am I ever going to love those who annoy me as much as I love myself?
Being romantic for Valentine’s Day is the easy part. If only that’s all there was to it.
It was five years ago today that my wife and I went on our first date. Even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
The picture you are seeing now was taken back in March 2007; about a month after our first date… already so much in love.
But how did it all begin?
Jill Tuttle was the only one of my friends who wanted to go with me to see John Mayer in concert two hours away in Huntsville, Alabama.
This was convenient for me because I had a huge crush on her for the past four months, since meeting her at a CMT taping of the show, Crossroads.
I had been deliberately nurturing an authentic friendship with her by initiating a Sunday night tradition of meeting at Starbucks to “catch up.” We had both talked about our mutual love for John Mayer’s music. I knew that her favorite song of his was “Back To You.”
So I made the most of this concert opportunity. This was my chance.
I knew she liked Lenny’s Subs and Twizzlers. So that’s the dinner I packed in a picnic basket for us; we dined in my Honda Element in the parking lot before the show.
When we got back to Nashville around midnight, I put the car in park, looked her right in the eyes, and told her straightforwardly:
“Conveniently, next week is Valentine’s Day. And I really, really like you. I would like to take you out for Valentine’s.”
And the rest is history. We married about a year and half later; then about two and half years after that, our son Jack was born.
That’s the story of us. You could say it all started with us both responding to an email about participating in the taping of a TV show for CMT, as audience members. Or that it all actually started at Starbucks. Or the John Mayer concert. Or even Valentine’s Day 2007.
But ultimately, it started with me taking the initiative to pursue her, carefully and patiently. I wanted to marry my best friend. So I did.
Now I look around the room and see pictures featuring the memories of the mutually shared past five years of our lives, along with a corner of our living room filled with the noisy plastic toys of a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy known to many as “Jack-Man.”
Sure, I believe God orchestrated it all. He caused our paths to cross.
Yet still, when I survey my life of Jill and Jack, I can’t help but think, “Man, I made this happen. I convinced this girl to fall in love with me five years ago. Now we not only have a life together but also a son whom we love like crazy.”
I forever changed Jill Tuttle’s life. I just couldn’t leave her alone. I pursued her and won over her heart.
Of course, it will be an ongoing process. I’m not finished falling in love with her and I never will be.
I believe that most men are wired to appreciate and use formulas to get the job done. That’s definitely the case for me. I just want someone to spell it out for me so I always know what to do the next time I’m in that situation again. I hate having to guess.
Therefore, I will attempt to share my formula for writing a thoughtful and sincere Valentine’s Day card for your wife and the mother of your children.
This year, instead of rushing by the drug store the day before and scribbling in the card “I love you” while sitting at the red light, you can be prepared ahead of time.
You can even have her card purchased and filled out a week ahead of time. Nice plan, huh? Let’s do it.
1. Make it quirky. No matter how serious or funny the card itself is supposed to be, I always like to personalize the card. Like if on the front there are two cartoon cats who are in love, I write in “you” and “me” with arrows pointing to the appropriate characters.
No matter what the writing inside the card says when you buy it, you can always add to it, inserting a line with a specific example of something she did or said that was special and memorable.
2. Use the phrase “in love with you.” It’s a given that you will tell her in the card that you love her. But by proclaiming that you are in love with her, it resurfaces those feelings and memories of when you first fell in love with her and it shows her that you never stopped falling in love with her.
Just be sure you don’t say, “I’m still in love with you.” The word “still” makes the whole thing go south pretty quickly.
3. Use her name at least once. It’s so easy to get in the habit of calling her pet names or even simply nothing at all that you end up not calling her by her name. But there’s a lot of power in saying and/or writing a person’s name. So say her name, say her name.
4. Mention your appreciation of her motherly skills. We all know that parenting is a thankless job. So thank her for how good she is at it. And if your kid is too young to talk yet like mine is, add a little note from your child- pretending to speak for them.
Okay, the card is purchased and written. Now figure out where to display it on that fateful Tuesday morning. Maybe on the bathroom sink? Let it be one of the first things she notices, to help start Valentine’s Day out the right way.
One more thing, save this article in your “Favorites.” You may need to use this card-writing formula in the near future: her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Arbor Day…
Alright guys, you don’t need my help here. You knew what it took to get her to fall for you in the first place. I’m assuming you’ve already begun brainstorming on how to make this Valentine’s Day special for the love of your life and the mother of your child.
So today I’m just here to offer up a few more decent ideas to throw into the mix, or remind you about, as V-Day approaches us. Here’s what I say about making Valentine’s Day special for her:
Keep it simple, thoughtful, and unique.
1. Buy a miniature cake from the grocery store for the two of you to share. They cost around 8 bucks and are essentially the equivalent of buying two of those trendy $4 cupcakes; which wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Chances are, she will be charmed by your “fun” and “cute” idea of throwing together Valentine’s dessert.
2. Pick up a special drink and serve it in champagne or wine glasses. Whether it’s your wifey’s favorite wine, cider, gourmet beer, or even just sparkling grape juice. The idea is to bring a touch of fanciness and class; yet so simply.
3. Personalize her Valentine’s Day card. I just did a more detailed article on this alone, but for now, what matters is that you write more than “I love you” on a 99 cent card. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm how you feel about her with words that will potentially stick around longer than the words spoken every other day. Seeing something written in black and white really has staying power.
4. Get her a sugary treat for later. It doesn’t have to be a box of chocolates. Maybe she prefers Twizzlers or Jelly Bellies. This aspect is like the stocking stuffer of Valentine’s Day. Plus, it’s just nice to have something leftover for the next day she can enjoy while she’s at work.
5. Oh yeah, the flowers. Honestly, I never spend a lot on these. The important thing is that you have them to display in a vase on the counter or table. Flowers are important because they last about two weeks longer than Valentine’s Day itself.
Notice how none of my ideas involve spending a lot of money or require too much effort.
Simple, thoughtful, and unique. That’s the man plan for Valentine’s Day.
Not to mention, by default, you’re teaching your son how to be romantic and/or your daughter what she should expect from a guy you would approve of someday.