To celebrate love on Valentine’s day in the United States, a couple may decide to visit the venue of their first date or where the proposal happened. Roses, candy hearts, teddy bears and chocolates are given and taken in very good faith. For instance, it is becoming customary, in the Philippines, for people to gather en masse at malls and other public areas to hold weddings or renew marital vows. South African women, on the other hand, pin the names of the men they love on their sleeves. Whilst, in Rome, they have an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia, where Italians exchange BaciPerugina – small, chocolate-coated hazelnuts wrapped with a romantic piece of writing done in four languages. There are several other Valentine traditions from around the world but in Nigeria, there is no specific way of celebrating February 14th. Although, however people choose to celebrate valentine’s day in Nigeria, money is usually involved. Tangible money.
I recently came across a statistic that states that; while the Saint Valentine’s Day celebration is marked globally, Nigerians spend about N30 billion on the purchase of gifts and luxury items for loved ones. Thus, buttressing the theory that love is not cheap. Even though we sometimes throw the word around carelessly, especially at this time of the year, I believe love is an important life value – love for self, love for others, love for country and love for God. This is true love, one that is not measured in terms of naira & kobo; we measure it in terms of its characteristics.
So, I’d like to share three characteristics of true love that distinguishes it from superficial love.
- Love For Self and Others
To learn to love yourself is the foundation of your single most important relationship—that with yourself. The strength of all your other relationships is exactly equal to the strength of the love you have for yourself.
It’s not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, it’s about being in touch with the total wellness of our mind, body and soul. The Golden Rule tells you to “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. You are likely to have heard it many times, expressed in different ways, thinking it is about loving others. Look a little closer and you will find that at its very core is the command to love yourself.
Thus, to give love and to give it freely, you must first have love. To have love, learn to love yourself. Only then will you be able to truly love others for the pure joy of love itself. Give the love, the kindness, the caring and whatever else you wish to experience with others, to yourself first. And when you learn to love yourself in this way, you will find all your relationships changing for the better especially the one with yourself.
- Love is sacrificial
A true test of love is the willingness to give up something of value for the one you love. Loving yourself may mean giving up junk food to improve your health. Loving others may mean you sacrificing your time for their sake.
It is often said that love without sacrifice is like an ocean without water.
Generally, our human nature is selfish. We find it easy to love ourselves, our family, wives and children but when it goes beyond that sphere, we struggle. That probably ties into our Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest, every-man-for-himself, kill-or-be-killed predator-mindset. As tough as it may seem, loving others is the right path to thread and this path involves sacrifice.
For what is love without sacrifice?
- Love is a choice
Love is not something that happens to you. Love is a choice you make in the good times and the bad times, when it’s convenient and when it’s not.
Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But, feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen.
Besides, life already offers us plenty of spontaneity: rejection, job loss, heartache, disappointment, despair, illness and a host of other problems. We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our relationships. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.
As you enjoy all the festivities this February, reflect on what true love is; by using the checklist above to make sure you’re celebrating the real thing.
Remember, You Have Only One Life to Live, MAKE IT COUNT.