Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few thoughts about LOVE on this day that celebrates this strange and wonderful reality. In particular, I’d like to share some thoughts about how to make love last since we live in a world in which love is too often seen as simply a fleeting emotion. Scripture, on the other hand, speaks of God’s love as being “an everlasting love.” Since we are made in God’s image, that means that we are capable of this love as well. So, without further ado, here are 6 “sure fire” ways to make love last. ( BTW, as someone who’s been married nearly 32 years, I think I have some “street cred” on the subject!)
- Give your undivided attention – there was a great TV commercial not long ago for AT&T showing a young couple enjoying a romantic dinner. As the young lady talks, however, she notices her date keep looking down at his lap. She asks if, perhaps, he is watching sports on his phone which he denies. However, as she begins to talk again, he blurts out a cheer for his team. The look on her face makes it clear: this relationship will not last without your undivided attention! Giving our full attention to another is an act of selflessness: it is not easy! God gives us his undivided attention as the Psalmist expresses in Psalm 139. It is a profound compliment to have someone give you his or her full attention. How flattering!
- Express your love beyond words – talk can be cheap; that’s why we give flowers and chocolates on occasions such as, oh, I don’t know, VALENTINE’S DAY! Gestures such as these must not be easily dismissed as so much fluff. In his Catholicism series, Fr. Bob Barron reminds us of Aristotle’s observation that “the best activities are the most useless” because such things are not simply a means to a further end but are done entirely for their own sake. The smallest gesture of love that you offer may be just the miracle that someone was praying for! God’s love speaks to us in a myriad of non-verbal ways – constant “useless” reminders of his everlasting love for us.
- Do right by him/her – The rock group Bad Company wrote a song back in the day called “Do Right by Your Woman.” Duh. The gestures we mentioned in #2 above are empty if they are accompanied by disrespectful and hurtful actions. Love is communicated by the quality of our actions. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Love lasts when it is consistently communicated by actions that express profound respect for the well being of the other.
- Keep the lines of communication open – Any time you ask couples who have been married a long time what their “secrets” for longevity are, you will hear the word communication. Relationships thrive on communication – talking AND listening. In Scripture, God is constantly inviting us to enter into communication with him (example, Jeremiah 29:12-13). Relationships last when the partners involved continually invite one another to talk with the assurance that the other is listening.
- Spend time together – One couple that had been married for a long time said one of their secrets was sitting on the couch together every night so that they would be forced to physically touch one another. We are not meant to live in isolation. Love lasts when the couple involved spend quality time with one another. What a great example we have from our God who became flesh so that he could be with us! Physical presence increases the opportunities for expressing love which in turn, makes love last.
- Tell EVERYONE about your love – One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, is when Doc “Moonlight” Graham (played by the late great Burt Lancaster) says “I best be getting home. Alicia with think I’ve got a girlfriend.” In each of his few scenes, ol’ Doc Graham makes a habit of talking about his wife with a twinkle in his eye. We never meet her in the movie, but from the way he talks, you can tell how in love they are. He can’t NOT talk about her (much like Jeremiah realized that he could not stop talking about the love of God!). When we fall in love, we want to tell the world. Love lasts when those who are in love never stop telling the world about their love.
God has loved each of us with an everlasting love! May the love you share with that special someone in your life be everlasting as well! Happy Valentine’s Day!
P.S. These 6 “sure fire ways to make love last” are essentially the 6 ways that we deepen our love of God – what the Church calls the Six Fundamental Tasks of Catechesis (as discussed in my book, Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ)
- Promote knowledge of the faith = Give God your undivided attention – get to know everything about God
- Promote knowledge of the liturgy & sacraments = Express your love beyond words – talk can be cheap; that’s why use sacramental language
- Promote moral formation = Treat God and others with respect
- Teach Prayer = Keep the lines of communication open – talk AND listen to God
- Promote community participation = Spend time with God and his People
- Promote a missionary spirit = Tell EVERYONE about your love for God and God’s love for you!