Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winning Families: Enjoy Valentine's Day

Enjoy Valentine's Day - Avoid the Blues
Fred R. Lybrand

Jeremy visited a florist’s shop which showed a large sign that read, “Say It With Flowers.” “Wrap up one rose, please,” Jeremy demanded of the florist’s assistant. “Only one?” she enquired frowning. “Ah yes just the one,” Jeremy replied. “I’m a man of very few words.”

Market researchers deduced from their survey that eight million Americans send Valentine’s Day gifts to themselves.

Valentine’s Day is a day of amazing impact. Almost everyone who plays up the day experiences the “Blues,” you know, feeling sad about a loss or failure. Blues music grew up as a way to cope with the plight of such feelings and literally tries helping the Blues listener to “feel good about feeling bad.” Unfortunately, nothing takes the Valentine’s Blues away except time and the hope that next year will be better.

So, what are the Valentine’s Blues and how can we avoid them? The Valentine’s Blues come because of disappointment in one of two ways.

The first kind of blues comes when you don’t have a Valentine on Valentine’s Day. It starts in early February, building up to the “big day”—hitting rock bottom on February 14.

No matter how you pitch it, it makes you feel left out and unloved on some level if everyone else is getting flowers, going out for the evening, or being treated special. It stinks to feel left out. No wonder eight million Americans send themselves a Valentine’s Day gift. However, it doesn’t seem so bad on February 15th once the stores move on to Easter decorations.

The second kind of blues comes to those who celebrated Valentine’s in a big way, only to start clutching the disappointment the very next day (and the days to come) because it’s back to life as usual. When it comes to love and romance, “usual” is not what we want.

The blues can be worse for the second group because they’re long-term. We’ve all experienced it in some way or another: the excitement of Valentine’s Day, the romance, and the presents, similar to Christmas, but all about romantic love.

We humans like to feel special, and on that special day there is nothing more exciting than the build-up to the event—one incredible evening, just you and that one person. The two of you in love and enraptured with all that special day could offer.

Fast forward to the next day or two. How do you feel? The next day you are smiling for a moment at the memory of a day when his/her attention was only on you. But now, back to work, and a lurking feeling of sadness is peering over the fence at you. Will it be a whole year before you have another night like that?

You try to be logical and sober-minded, telling yourself that it was a good memory to bask in, and yet you know deep down something is amiss. Something is wrong. Finally, you scream inside (and try quickly to forget it), “Why can’t we be in love all year long?”

The Cure for the Valentine’s Blues

The blues you experience are invented, because the Day itself was invented. It’s marketing, that’s all. Yet, with Valentine’s Day there is something more—it is a day built on romance. Oddly enough, romance often works counter to true love.

Consider what romance is in reality. My friend Robert Fritz observed that, “Romance is the suspension of the norm.” Think about it this way: romance is where we clean up (don’t smell like ourselves), dress up (don’t look like ourselves), and go somewhere special (and don’t act like ourselves)! None of this is bad as long as you realize it is not real, that it is just a game. Okay, it’s a fun game, but it is still just a game. True love happens in the “norm.” It happens in the real world of your daily experiences.

In reality, I don’t believe there is much “real” about romance as it is commonly pitched. In truth, it damages both our dating relationships and our marriages to make romance itself the goal. The romantic standards can get so high that we can’t appreciate the real things right in front of us. Romance can be an equal opportunity destroyer—harmful for both men and women.

I’ve known men whose romantic standards were so high they would never go out on dates, or they wouldn’t ask the woman out again. I’ve also known women who live for the fairy tale wedding, but in time divorce to seek out the wedding-fantasy all over again.

The cure for the Valentine’s Blues is to simply recognize that it is a made up day. If you don’t have a special someone in your life on one particular day, why should it feel different than the day after? If you want to play the romance game, then play it, but remember it really is just a game. Pretending the Day itself proves or influences the love in your life, however, will really suck you into despair most of the time.

If you have a special someone, it is far better to find the love in every day. The day-to-day normal world is with you all the time in terms of work and laundry and colds and tragedies and funny moments. This is where true love grows and binds and matures. If you seek love in the suspension-of-normal world of romance, then you can only experience the diminishing return of, “But what have you done for me lately?” Each experience must top the last one when you fall into a quest to escape from life. True love is not an escape; it is nourishment to see us through the mundane parts that make up our daily lives.

Pause for a moment and notice that a love relationship is about building a life together. Tell the truth, both the good and bad, and work through it together. If you want to play the game, then dress up and go out! Pretend you are rich, or just met, or just got back from being a contestant on Survivor. It doesn’t much matter because you are playing a game that you take for what it is; it’s merely Valentine’s Day. A day brought to you by the card and candy industry…with some hope that you will find a special moment, made better by a special purchase! Make it great, but make it important! You’ll thank me in the morning.

Glaen: A Novel Message on Romance, Love and RelatingAuthor Fred Lybrand takes an in-depth look into relationships and dating, plus offers a little common sense for the real day-to-day world, in his book, Glaen. Lybrand wants others to know the freedom that can be found in relating to others truthfully and without pretense. In his presentation of thought-provoking ideas, Lybrand first uncovers the lies of a secular world-view and then counters those lies with the truth of God’s design for the marriage relationship.

The life-changing principles found in Glaen are the gems Lybrand wants readers to take and experience in their own lives and relationships. The book serves as a great teaching tool for parents to use with their children as well as for church leaders guiding couples who are seeking a more satisfying marriage relationship. The Glaen Small Groups Study Guide is now available as a free download at http://www.glaen.com/.
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