Written by: Rosanna Sainez

It’s that time now, when shelves are stocked with heart shaped chocolates, roses, and valentine grams. According to Hallmark, did you know that more than 163 million cards are exchanged? I clearly didn’t, and not only that but I also did not know that Valentine's Day is celebrated in Mexico, Canada, France, and Australia. I remember when I was a little girl I would always look forward to Valentine's Day. I specifically enjoyed the gifts I would receive from classmates because it temporarily made me feel connected with them. The elementary school I attended had this tradition where each kid designed their own “Valentine’s” basket to be put on their desk, so that they would receive valentine grams from each classmate. It didn't even matter if I was close with my classmate or not. What was so special about seeing whose name was signed at the bottom of the valentine card was that they thought of me, and made me feel known. At that age I didn't quite understand the meaning of love and what that looked like for my future. Heck I still don't know, and don't think I will ever understand, unless I choose to live everyday in love. So what does living like this look like?

Love is portrayed in a multitude of ways. Whether it is internally loving oneself, or person to person. Individually, love can look like taking pleasure in things one enjoys as well as self acceptance. Love towards a person simply means taking pleasure in their personality, enjoying their company, and choosing to show affection. However, when we look at the Bible, love is not based on delighting in a person or what a person does. Love is loving one another, unconditionally.

The beauty of love is that we do not need to be complete in order to receive it. We don't need that valentine gram or a significant other to feel this love. Prior to traveling to Senegal, I was in a season where I was trying to understand God's love. I kept asking God, “Please! Let me feel your love! I want it.” One of my friends questioned me, “Rosanna why do you keep questioning God's love. You already have it.” It took a matter of months after I returned from Senegal that I had experienced love without conditions. The way my Senegalese friends looked at me in the eye and valued every part of my heart made me feel complete.

It is important to not look at Valentine’s Day as the only day we can explicitly receive or give love to others. What would it look like to live out Valentine’s Day everyday? Whether it's helping a friend or family member, serving in the community, being generous to one another, and most of all offering forgiveness daily we can achieve a life full of love; if we achieve this, maybe we can live out the commandment that Christ has put on our hearts - to love others as oneself.