You may have heard the sad news, and if you are 50 or above I’ll bet you knew right away who they were talking about. The Captain and Tennille, now in their 70’s and living near Prescott, are getting divorced. I realize that the reasons for their divorce deal with insurance etc. and are really none of my business.
I mention them because when I heard the news the words to what became their signature song popped into my head, and I’m still hearing it…
Love, Love will keep us together…
As we enter February most of us can’t help but realize that Valentine’s Day is coming. Whether you like it or not this juggernaut of marketing and sentimentality is right around the corner. This is the day that we’ve chosen to celebrate romantic love above all other virtues. This is a day that doubtless makes card makers and florists a lot of money.
I’m also pretty sure this day lays the ground work for much future dental work as well. And this is the day that a lot of husbands get into real trouble when try and grab some flowers and/or chocolates at the last minute. But being single I’ll let others deal with that. Because for me personally this day is one huge irrelevance! (Though I do admit to loving me some chocolate!)
One thing Valentine’s Day is not is a day that’s usually associated with deep thought. That’s too bad really because in our culture with its horrible divorce rate, abused and neglected children and dysfunctional homes, it really ought to be.
Have you ever wondered why it is in a culture that celebrates love all the time, and even sets aside a day designed to focus solely on its virtues, we do such a lousy job of actually loving one another? When you take our high number of divorces in conjunction with the rate of abused and neglected children in America I don’t know how you can avoid the conclusion that while we may talk a good game when it comes to love we don’t really know how to do it.
There are probably a lot of reasons you could come up with to explain this. But here’s the one I want to talk about for a moment here. When you strip away all the hoopla, hearts and flowers, candy and cards, what’s left? Not much really. I believe one of the foundational reasons for this is because we don’t really know what love is. Most people probably understand there’s a big difference between loving hotdogs and loving your dog and loving your children and spouse. But I don’t think most people can really articulate what those differences are.
If you look back at history you’ll find that there are two concepts that are nearly universally connected to love: commitment and self-sacrifice.
To really love someone means I’m committed to this relationship, whether it’s a friendship, sibling, spouse etc. Love means I’m going to stick it out with you when things get tough and when you get obnoxious as you surely will at some point in time. I do this secure in the knowledge that you are going to do the same thing when I’m obnoxious.
Self-sacrifice shows in all forms of love. From the parents who sacrifice time and money to raise their children properly to the husband who sacrifices a hobby to spent time with his wife to the adult child who sacrifices time and money to care for their aging parent there is not lasting love without self-sacrifice. Commitment and self-sacrifice make up the heart and soul of love. This is true even though we don’t always see what we are doing as a sacrifice because we doing it out of love.
Now here’s the rub. In a culture that promotes self and pleasure above nearly everything else (or to use a big word self-actualization) how is love possible? How can I be focused on myself and my happiness and my progress and be committed to others and sacrifice myself for them? To consistently do both of those things at the same time is pretty near impossible if you ask me. You cannot seek self and love at the same time.
A very wise man once said, “Love is not self-seeking.” If that’s true, as my experience and belief show it to be, then it’s no wonder while we praise the glories of love we do such a sad job of actually being loving.
Maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could give this year is a bit more of yourself, an extra dose of commitment, some more willing to sacrifice, along with the chocolate of course!