Eight years ago today a certain guy called a certain girl and asked her out to dinner.
This particular guy already had plans that day. He had a date with his young niece and nephew to see a movie.
Most guys would probably have cancelled on the kids. They could always go another day. After all this day was Valentine's day. You know the day of romance. A day full of couples out having private, intimate dinners and professing their love. He had it on good authority that the girl he was interested in did not have any plans that night. The kids would understand.
This guy was different.
He called the girl and told her he already had other plans. He asked her to consider one of three options.
A. Movie with him and the kids
B. A late dinner after the movie minus kids
C. A + B
Some people might think this would make for a very awkward first date. Some girls would feel insulted that they weren't put first. They might have turned him down simply out of principle.
This girl saw something else. She saw a man who kept his promises. She saw a man who would make an incredible father one day. She saw a man who understood what love was really all about. She chose C.
Oh, and that turned out to be the most romantic date she had ever been on in her life.
One month later that couple was engaged. Three years later they got married.
Today my husband took me out to dinner. We went to the Olive Garden where we had that first dinner together. Our kids came with us.
Some people might think that's strange. Valentine's Day is the day of romance. A day to celebrate as a couple. A day for a married couple to get away from the kids and commemorate their first date. For us today was a day for celebrating our love. Our love for each other and our love for our children.
Plus we didn't have a babysitter. ;)
When I was in high school I was involved in a church youth group. One year Valentine's Day landed on a Sunday. One of the guys in the group arrived to our meeting after church and presented his girlfriend with a heart shaped box of chocolates. All the other girls sighed and said how sweet and romantic he was. Secretly we were probably all a little jealous. Then he walked around the room and presented every girl with a matching heart shaped box of chocolates. We were stunned.
See that high school boy understood something about Valentine's Day. He understood the same thing my husband understood the day he asked me out for the first time. The same thing I contemplated today as I enjoyed a sweet (and yes still very romantic) dinner with my husband and our two kids. Romance means nothing without love.
St. Valentine understood real love. Legend tells us of a man who risked (and ultimately lost) his life not for romance but for love. He broke the law to give young couples the gift of marriage. Not a first date or an evening out. A lifelong commitment. I am sure it was romantic for the couples involved but the gift given by St. Valentine was out of selfless love. After he was arrested he continued to show that love even for his captors. He converted the jailer and his daughter to Christianity.
I think with all the hype and commercialization surrounding the holiday many people get so caught up in the romance (or lack thereof) they can lose sight of the more important thing. Love. It can be any kind of love. Romantic love, friendship, parenthood, the love of a child, love for a neighbor . . . it all counts. Today is the day to celebrate love.
I will close by signing my post the way Valentine signed his letters.
"From Your Valentine"
Ok, that was a little sappy. I can't help it. It's St. Valentine's Day! :)