By Chaplain (Maj.) Todd Claypool, Chaplain Family Life CenterFebruary 1, 2018
(Editor's note: This article is the fourth of a four-week series on strengthening the marriage relationship.)
So here we are with Valentine's Day nearly upon us. Guys are sweating bullets trying to figure out the perfect gift idea. My stomach is tied in knots with all the pressure to find the right gift/create the romantic evening whatnot. I know, I know, my wife and I have been together for a number of years now.
It doesn't seem to get any easier for me with these holidays. I suppose this is from all the big-city hoopla trying to get me to buy something outrageously expensive, as if that will ignite all her wild passion on fire. Indeed, that does sound good to me. However, I know my wife pretty darn well enough to know she possesses a depth and worth in her that is much more profound than a marketing gimmick.
Valentine's Day, what is all this about, anyhow?
I hear a lot about romance and candy hearts, fancy cards, really nice jewelry, and wonderful alluring evenings. I'm brokenhearted how society seems to think they can manipulate or buy romance and passion at their beck and whim, like a combo meal at a fast food joint.
I remember a time in seminary when we didn't have much money and a guy had bought what he described as the perfect gift -- and what seemed at the time to be outrageously expensive -- for his wife. This was somewhat discouraging to those of us who could not afford such an indulgence. We wondered how we might display our love and passion without financial graces. He was grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato as he boasted that this was the silver bullet for his marriage.
Eventually, it became apparent he could not have been more woefully mistaken. He was so sure that the gift would "do the trick." Unfortunately, he was, as some might say, all hat and no cattle.
Somewhere we have gotten off track.
It seems to me that the idea of celebrating love should have more depth of heart and soul than tossing out a piece of candy that says, "Be mine." I would want my wife to know that there is more of a hankering of love reflected within my gift than is expressed from a quick stop to the five and dime. I tend to think there should be more adoration or passion communicated.
The origin of Valentine's Day seems particularly murky to me. I don't hold anything against the day. It's a fun day that I get to celebrate with my wife. We usually enjoy a special meal and exchange gifts as a token of our love for each other. However, there is more to it than just a sum of the events.
I'm inclined to think that the true spirit of Valentine's Day is summed up in the word passion. Now there is an interesting word. I just searched the phrase "passionate" on my work computer.
I don't recommend doing that, it scared me a little. This term might just be more confusing than watching an episode of the Kardashians. Sort of leaves you thinking "What the heck is that about?" Well, let me try to clarify things a bit.
Merriam-Webster tells me that the first known use of the English word "passion" was in the 13th century. It derives from the Latin root patior, which means to allow, permit, suffer or endure. Now I am far from being a linguist or grammatician, but it seems like the original meaning of the word "passion" is much more than just a heated desire. In a religious sense, the word is used to describe the crucifixion of Christ. It conveys Jesus' intense and voluntary suffering as an atonement for our sin. So how does this translate to love and the marital relationship?
You may find this amusing, but I often have to go to the Urban Dictionary to find out what the heck people are saying. This is most common with the new-fangled text message code. A definition for "Passion" that I found on Urban Dictionary says: "Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it.
It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body, and soul into something as is possible" (Docspy, 2006). I really like this definition.
Wonder with me for a bit.
Imagine if someone were to put that type of "passion" into his or her marriage. Kind of like Jesus did for us. It is the putting of your whole self into the relationship. Allowing yourself the freedom to love with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and all of your strength. This is a transformational type of feeling. It is a "passion" that communicates love at the core of who you are.
Without a doubt, a purchased gift can communicate love, but only in part. Authentic passionate love is only experience, and only expressed, when your whole being connects with another person.
Call it what you want; some say it's mystical, some say magical, in Christian terminology we call it oneness. It is the passionate love that is willing to engage the whole of self -- mind, soul, body and strength -- into a sacrificial love romantic relationship of husband and wife. This is nothing short of miraculous, a Divine intervention; and what God has joined together, let no man separate.