Red flower petals creating a heart

Last Updated on February 16, 2024

Valentine’s Day means something different for all of us in different seasons of our lives.

For some, namely men (in my humble opinion), it’s a made-up, Hallmark holiday that requires dinner reservations and a florist to avoid ending up in the doghouse with their significant other.

Valentine’s Day in Our Youth

For others, like my teenage and young adult selves, Valentine’s Day was only worth celebrating if there was a special someone in my life. My desire for large stuffed animals, delectable chocolates, a fancy dress-up dinner, and the magical ‘L’ word for dessert was more romance than most men could handle in a year, much less one weekday.

And then there were those young married years with a built-in partner and the assurance of a dinner date. It didn’t matter who made the reservations, so long as we enjoyed the evening together. We’d stare deeply into each other’s eyes, knowing we had finally met our person—the one who would always love us and never seek those illusive greener pastures outside our own safe, perfect love.

Skip ahead a few years, and Valentine’s Day took on a whole new meaning.

Valentine’s Day with Young Kids

As a mother of two young sons, my precious Valentines had never been so adorable or pudgy! They were my own personal Cupid cherubs. Their love arrows went straight to my heart, knowing I was, for those few early years, the central focus of my two darling sons’ worlds. (Not to mention, they would, from their epic entrance into the world, never cease to be anything but my two greatest loves of all time.)

I remember those early days of elementary school Valentine’s parties. The enjoyment (and sometimes last-minute frustration) that came from making homemade Valentine’s boxes. My sons’ upcycled shoe boxes were fairly basic, but definitely created with love and a level of forced family teamwork.

My kids boxes never won any awards or made the front page of the school newsletter. But we certainly had fun making them, and they contained all the conversation hearts, sugary red suckers, and personalized valentines perfectly.

Valentine’s Day after Loss

Then there is Valentine’s Day after a divorce or the death of a partner. (I have, unfortunately, survived both.) This can bring about a humbly devastating day. Surrounded by the happily married, or happily living, while knowing this particular year will hold none of those grand-scale gestures of year’s past from lovers present.

My heart goes out to those struggling with solitary singleness, which coincides with the famous day of love.

The best advice I can give is to make plans with a good friend. Keep it simple and do something you enjoy, even if it means vegging out to Netflix with your favorite dessert.

This year may be a bit brutal on the old heart, but just remember, “To everything there is a season,” and next year will very likely hold new possibilities for a more celebratory cherub-infused love day.

One mom's personal evolution of Valentines Day

The Evolution of Valentine’s Day

In my 40s, Valentine’s Day looks more different than ever. My oldest son only cares about the candy, and he personally feels that love is overrated, unless you’re referring to his love for video games, ridiculous YouTube shorts, and his present obsession, which for the life of me I cannot understand, with Kanye West.

My youngest son, currently a fifth grader, will enjoy his last year of elementary school parties, which, ironically, I find more depressing than he does.

When I ponder February 14th, I enjoy losing myself in the nostalgia and magic of Valentine’s Day as a young child. I can appreciate the romantic aspect of the holiday as a young woman. My heart smiles at the memory of those Valentine’s Days when my sons were innocent toddlers and dirt-eating, truck-playing, trouble-finding little boys.

But now, at the age of 44, what does the thought of Valentine’s Day mean to me?

The day is synonymous with love, and we all have a multitude of relationships, each with a varying version of love. But now, I think about the greatest form of love I have ever known.

A Love Beyond Compare

Of this love, I am absolutely certain. It’s easy to pinpoint this love. It is the love of a Savior. A love I learned about as a young child in Sunday school. I accepted this love as a nine-year-old at my hometown church, sitting high upon the hill on Strickland Road.

This was a love that met me in my weakest moments. It held me through seasons of immense difficulty, propelled me forward with each intersection of life’s adventurous journey, and continues to comfort, protect, provide peace, and wrap me in a blanket of grace and acceptance with each new day.

This love doesn’t just belong to me. It belongs to the world. It was graciously given by a loving Father, selflessly sacrificing his very own Son, for the forgiveness and redemption of the entire human race.

This is a love for which none other can even come close to comparison.

When I hear the term Valentine’s Day, I see a mental image of red, white, and pink hearts. But when I consider the meaning behind this holiday and the quintessential ingredient for a fulfilling and favorable life, that of LOVE, I see a simple wooden cross.

A man with his arms outstretched, praying for those that persecuted Him, and knowing, from the depths of His soul, that this version of love is the only key that unlocks the door to the paradise of eternal life.

It is a place known as Heaven, where love is the cornerstone of existence, perhaps a bit like the Valentine’s Day we celebrate every February 14th. Only in Heaven, the angels are real, the chocolate is endless (and doesn’t cause pesky weight gain), and there is no shortage of love for every soul that will share this glorious new home.

It’s a home decorated with joy, built on a foundation of freedom, and sprinkled with an overwhelming dose of pure, unequivocal, never-ending love for eternity.