a challenge to love

 image via weheartit
any other year, i would have mocked those who celebrated a holiday on february 14th, or spoken out against the day when everybody decides to be love-dovey and show their "corny" love for others, claiming that we should do this every day, not only on valentine's day. 
this year, i've gained a new perspective. 
a few things have happened the in the past couple of months..... 
1. i got a tattoo (i'll get to how this has any relation to this, i promise). 
2. i started leading a bible study corresponding to the book stargirl by jerry spinelli. 
in stargirl, one of the major ideas presented in the book is to have a general love towards those around you, genuinely caring about what they are going through, and celebrating every moment with them. i say this is a "general love" because in the book it is directed towards every human being, almost as if it is a common necessity for life, a respect paid to each individual. 
this idea has really gotten me thinking lately about whether i truly love and care about every person i come in contact with, as the main character, stargirl, does in the book. before this bible study began, i started to evaluate myself in the terms of how much i really love people in general, leading to my tattoo: "the greatest of these is love." not only is that part of my favorite verse, but it is a daily reminder to me that love is the most powerful thing, because it can and has conquered so much, challenging me to do everything in love. 
this past week, i have been mulling over the idea of valentine's day (which isn't difficult when you work in bakery and are surrounded by heart shaped cookies and donuts and cheesecake and cake and everything), trying to find some grand meaning to it, and today, while i was mentally complaining that i had to help a customer after we closed for the night, it hit me.
yes, people do use valentine's day as a day to show their love for others, and yes, others find it depressing that they don't have a "valentine," but what if i've been missing the point? valentine's day doesn't just have to be about grand confessions of love, rather, it is about an even grander challenge to love. 
therefore, i have decided that valentine's day will no longer bring back bad memories of elementary school, middle school, and high school, but it will be a challenge for me to love everyone i come in contact with, just as Christ loved all he met- even those who nailed him to the cross. 
i will finally admit that valentine's day is the day of love, but minus all the chocolate and roses, and instead a day to help me remember what love really means, and to challenge me to show it. 

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