Red Roses, Rocky Road, and Relationships - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Faith
February 14, 2017

Red Roses, Rocky Road, and Relationships

Valentine’s Day has been my favorite holiday for quite some time now. I love everything about it—the color scheme, the heart-shaped decorations, bouquets of flowers, hand-written mail, and the clichéd feel of love in the air. But before you discard that statement as a lovey-dovey, flimsy exclamation from a 19-year-old girl, allow me to explain. I don’t love the holiday simply because I am a hopeless romantic, nor am I always in a relationship come Valentine’s Day. Neither do I passionately hate it for lack of relationship. No, my love for this holiday is not based upon the mood of my relationship status—it runs much deeper than candle-lit dinners and day-after clearance chocolate.

Valentine’s Day has changed for me over the years, but I have yet to encounter a year I don’t like. It started as a fun party day in elementary school, when my classmates and I were allowed to break from our dress code of red, white, and blue polo shirts to sport pink, white, and red tops. We made different forms of “mailboxes” for our desks and enjoyed pink, heart-shaped cupcakes, candy, and cut-out, mass produced Disney valentines. In a small school like my own, it was an unspoken rule that if you brought a valentine for one person, you better have valentines for everyone.

That rule changed with age, though, and in my teenage years I adopted a new meaning of secret admirers, roses, and eventually "promposals." For a time in my junior high years, I, like many others, was tempted to fall into the trap that the holiday was only about romance. I was almost deceived into believing that single people had no right to celebrate the day. But this mindset changed when I met my best friend in high school. We quickly became inseparable as we realized we shared many things, including similar senses of humor, a birthdate, and our favorite holiday. Whether or not we had significant others, we always had a valentine to spoil. Even after graduation, whether or not we live in the same state, we send each other personalized cards and gifts to celebrate our favorite holiday and friendship.

After graduation, I worked as an ice-cream server before attending college. Although I wasn’t at liberty to break from dress code to wear a holiday themed outfit, on Valentine's Day I topped sundaes with whipped cream hearts and extra cherries, while scooping up slightly larger portions of rocky road for those who looked to be lonely and in desperate need of ice cream. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I received two beautiful flower bouquets—one of wildflowers from my brother and the other of roses from my brother-in-law. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I exchanged sweet gifts with my sisters. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I spent the morning in the kitchen to surprise my siblings with Nutella-stuffed pancakes, strawberry yogurt parfaits, and heart-shaped cupcakes. I wasn’t in a relationship, but it was my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day.

1 John 4:11 says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be celebrated only by those in romantic relationships; it can—and should—be recognized by those of all ages as a day to show love for every other human inhabiting this earth with us. It should be a day when we make a point to live in the manner we are called to live daily—with intentional kindness towards our neighbors and overwhelming affection for those closest to us. 

I have celebrated February 14th differently throughout the years, but one thing has never changed: It is always full of sweet memories from various relationships in my life. Every year, I am inspired by the acts of love I witness—whether between siblings, friends, classmates, significant others, parents, or even strangers. I have yet to encounter a Valentine’s Day I don’t like and I welcome the many years to come as I’m sure my celebrations will continue to change. So bring on Valentine’s Day and choose to celebrate it with enthusiasm, no matter your relationship status. Conscientiously decide to embody Christ’s love through your actions and refuse bitterness towards love simply because one form is not in your favor. Choose to love one another because He first loved us.

That is a beautiful reason to love the holiday.

-Erika ‘20