What on earth kind of blog post title is that? I bet if you’ve not been reading my blogs for a while that you’re possibly here out of pure curiosity of that title. That’s ok. All will become clear.
Good Friday, the day of the year when Christians the world over remember the passion and death of Jesus Christ. (And if you don’t know what that is, watch Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion of the Christ’)
It doesn’t matter what you believe about the man in history known as Jesus Christ. Historically, his existence and the events surrounding his death are not disputed. So let’s just leave that there. Whether or not you believe him to be just a man, a prophet, or the living son of God and part of the holy trinity, the events remembered on Good Friday happened to a real person in history.
Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move on.
What’s that got to do with Valentine’s day? And seriously Emer, Valentine’s day was months ago!
Stick with me here.
The day we celebrate as Valentine’s day, is actually St.Valentine’s day. There are many stories surrounding St. Valentine and the origin of the day when we celebrate love (maybe Hallmark can give us an answer?!). From a priest who secretly performed weddings during the persecution of Christians in Rome, leaving a note before he died signed ‘From your Valentine’, to cutting out hearts from parchment and giving them to soldiers to remind them of Christ’s love for them, there are many stories, and also many saints who were called Valentine.
There are also several pretty gruesome death scenes in there that wouldn’t be out of place in Game of Thrones.
Makes Valentine’s day seem less romantic now, doesn’t it!
Anyway, I digress. 14th of February is a day where we are accustomed to showing other people how much we love them, and it all comes from this guy, St.Valentine. But it seems to me that it’s a little misplaced. Ultimately, St.Valentine, whichever of the versions you take, was killed quite brutally because he refused to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. He wanted people to know about the love that Jesus Christ has for them.
And that’s where Good Friday comes in.
So many of us struggle with all sorts of mental health challenges, anxiety, depression, low sense of self-esteem and self worth. A lot of it comes from a need to be loved and accepted that hasn’t been met. If we remain single into and beyond our thirties, or perhaps have gone through divorce or have had an abusive or unfaithful partner, perhaps there’s an unhealthy parental relationship or just that we’ve not been loved in the way we need (look up Love Languages), we all have a developed inner monologue that tells us that unless we look a certain way, dress a certain way, have a particular body shape and type, achieve a certain level of academic or professional success, that we are somehow failures in life and it fills us with insecurities and a belief that love is something we have to earn or buy. And it is a strange and twisted kind of love at that.
But Valentine’s day is such a hit! Why is that then?
It is easier to show love than to accept love, in part because we are trying to buy or earn the love of another person, it is something we can ‘control’, and it’s easy to then tell more lies to ourselves that ‘I would have been loved back if…..’ and so the vicious circle continues. It is easier to be loving to others than to be loving to ourselves, because fundamentally we have an internal story that says we are unlovable.
So this Good Friday, take it as a Valentine’s day take-two, but do something for yourself. Show yourself some of that love; think about the fact that you are loved and treasured, just as you are. Loved, not in a romantic way, not in a TV commercial or Netflix RomCom kind of way, not in a Disney movie kind of way, but in the way that St.Paul describes when he was writing to the folks in Corinth, that is patient, kind, not envious or proud, not selfish, that rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
Regardless of who you think the man called Jesus Christ is, what he believed about you is what matters, that thousands of others through the centuries since that first Good Friday have also given their life so that you can hear just how much you are loved and accepted, just as you are, is what matters.
Accept that you are loved, valued, cherished, treasured, and go and do something nice for yourself. Take a bath with some nice bath salts and some candles, buy yourself a bunch of flowers, get yourself a wee salon appointment, have a wee hot chocolate with all the trimmings, take yourself out for a special lunch…whatever it is for you. Make a start on that journey of learning to love yourself because you, dear reader, are and have been, loved beyond your ability to understand.