Who Was Valentine? And Some Advice for a Stronger Love

It was a grade-3 Valentine’s Day party. We had highly processed chocolate, some red balloons, and an awkward exchange of Valentine’s cards:

Roses are red / Violets are nice
Kiss me once / I’ll kiss you twice!

Ba da boom.

I’d like to say that our poetry and romantic prowess improve with age, but I’m not sure that’s accurate.

But the whole February 14th thing makes you wonder: Who was Valentine? And how do we grow a stronger love?

First, Valentine.

There’s some very fuzzy info out there. Two people named Valentine are traced to the 3rd century—one a bishop, the other a priest, both killed for their faith.

They may be different people, or the same person (with conflicting stats). It’s hard to be sure.

Some say the priest was in the habit of marrying young couples no one else would marry. Kind of like the guy in Romeo and Juliet who married the star-crossed lovers despite the speed-train romance and potential for social collateral between the Montagues and Capulets.

From what I could find, there’s not a tonne of evidence to back up this theory as Valentine the hero-love-priest. That doesn’t mean it isn’t out there; it just means I couldn’t find it.

But a reason the date of February 14th may be linked with both Valentine and romance is probably because (going back to a belief in the 1300’s) birds were supposed to mate on February 14th.

And what about choosing a Valentine? Some trace this custom to the 1400’s in England.

Regardless, can any of this help us grow a stronger love?

One of the expressions I don’t like is “falling” in love. It suggests we don’t have an active role in the love process. Like we’re running through a field and fall down a hole.

I get the idea: We are “swept” off our feet; we have a feeling, as if moved by an outside force.

But as psychiatrist Scott Peck says, “True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.”

So here’s what I suggest:

This Valentine’s Day… Choose the one you’re with.

Start to invest in the love that is right in front of you. Our world is drowning with unhelpful images, philosophies and attitudes about love and relationships.

But romantic love is intended to be patterned on the loyal, one-way love we have toward God.

Are you someone who is always thinking that the grass is greener on the other side? If so, Neil Barringham adds a word of wisdom: “The grass is greener where you water it.”

So here are 4 quick tips to help you water it:

1. Pay attention to your partner

They are communicating with you whether they’re using words or not. And attention requires effort, especially in these times of distracting, blurrying busyness. Pay attention.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails2. Have fun together

You were made for joy. The old teaching says that we were made to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That works in the context of a relationship too.

Laughter is the best… fertilizer.

3. Focus on strengths

When we start dating someone, we see all their wonders. But over time we can zero in on flaws. Guess what, you have them too. Don’t let your eyes be continually drawn from a beautiful piece of art to a few cobwebs on the frame. Be thankful for the good.

4. Start now

Want more quality time? Make more. Want more romance? Be romantic. Want a stronger relationship? Initiate a more trusting, intimate connection. Married? Frame your wedding vows.

International church consultant Kennon Callahan has a way of saying things. I’ve heard him say to a group of pastors that your next best church is the one you’re already in. I think that works for relationships too:

Your next best relationship is the one you’re already in.

In short, the records of history are a bit vague about Valentine. But if he was worth his salt, I’m betting he would have told you this:

Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13: 7-8)

Choose the one you’re with. And start now.


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