Our pastor went off lectionary yesterday. If I was a pastor, I would avoid a holiday like Valentine's Day, but our pastor is fearless. He talked about famous couples in the Bible, and pointed out that the unhappiest marriages came from one or both partners being unable to be happy with what they had in the marriage. He talked about that desperate yearning for more and that inability to be satisfied that can contaminate many a marriage--or any other human relationship.
Along the way he talked about the perfection of God's love for humanity. God's love should be a comfort.
As I parked the car before church, I was listening to NPR's This American Life, which was also broadcasting a show about love. A young guy was talking about how he thought that marriages should expire every 7 years, at which time couples can renew or not. Maybe he didn't say that about all marriages. Maybe he was just talking about how he planned his own marriage.
The interviewer, Ira Glass, offered an eloquent defense of marriage. He said he thought that one of the comforts of marriage was that during the bad days you knew that you had a commitment, you knew that you wouldn't just leave and that your partner wouldn't just leave.
I think that in America we do a bad job of learning how to manage our emotional lives. We think our feelings are real. We forget that the emotion we have today will likely be gone by tomorrow. We forget that our bad feelings are often triggered by all sorts of things that have nothing to do with how we really feel. Low blood sugar has caused many a fight--and probably more divorces and break-ups than we like to think about. Many of us go through daily life fatigued. We think our boredom and sadness are caused by our families or our friends or our jobs--and that might be the case--or we might just need more sleep.
So, as we begin the mad rush to Valentine's Day, let us take a moment to remember the gift of being able to love each other. Let us remember God, who first loved us, and who will love us long after all other love falls away.