WHAT'S IN YOUR BOX OF CHOCOLATES FOR VALENTINE'S DAY AND LENT?
BRING SWEETNESS GIVE UP BITTERNESS
Yes, Valentine's Day and Lent have more in common than meet the eye, especially when we look at our relationships. There are so many different relationships in our lives. For many of us, the most important relationship is the one with our "honey." But, as we make our way through our daily lives, there are numerous other relationships that also deserve our attention. There's even the relationship with the person standing at the end of the off ramp, even if it is an "I-refuse-to-look-at-you" relationship. It is a relationship all the same.
The hallmark of Valentine's Day is the heart. So this is the day we shower sweets upon the people we love. We even have the courage and audacity to "ask," our loved ones, (actually it's more like a demand) "Will you be my Valentine?" What nerve, uh? It's a day that even the most macho guy allows himself to be sweet! At least a little sweet.
On the other hand, we usually think of Lent as a time to give up sweets, but when it comes to relationships, perhaps Lent is the time that we can give up being bitter and sour and actually work at being more sweet to the people we are called to love! It's so timely for Valentine's Day to fall only a week before Lent. In the context of our discussion, Valentine's Day can be a rehearsal for being sweet all throughout the forty days of Lent. Or, as the Irish priest would say, "The farty days of Lent." And a box of chocolates can do that to ya! More gas than you know what to do with. Darn good thing we don't have to pay sky high prices or excise taxes for that gas! Although, at rock bottom, it is pollution, and perhaps some day some creative legislature will go for it. Won't he be surprised when those occupy folks wrap him up in a space capsule and ship him off to Uranus!
So, whatever you plan on doing or plan on being for Valentine's Day, plan on doing and plan on being for the entire forty (Irish pronounce it "farty") days of Lent as well. So by Easter Sunday, the person you once were for your honey will resurrect. And the folks who love us deserve that from us. After all, they graciously accept us and love us with all of our regal charms and warts.
AND, it is also a good time for us to reflect on the love we have lost. Why? Well, when we lose love either through breakup, divorce, or death, the fear of losing again can keep us stuck in bitterness, and sourpussness. We can also be one of those folks who think it is the higher path to suck up loss and attempt to skip over grieving.
Or worse, we could be one of those folks who have chosen to grieve, but now are being pressured from everyone to get on with it. Ironically, caving in to this societal pressure may rob us of continuing to truly enjoy the sweetness of a relationship that still exists even though the partner may be physically departed.
So here is a six point plan for both Valentine's Day and Lent. Let's call it
REQUIRED "CANDIES" FOR VALENTINE'S DAY THAT CAN BECOME SWEET LENTEN INDULGENCES AS WELL
1. ON VALENTINE'S DAY, say very sweet and "chocolatey" comments to your HONEY from morning to beddy-by time. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT, and say at least one very sweet and "chocolatey" comment to your honey each day for forty (farty) days.
2. ON VALENTINE'S DAY, bring a sweet melting touch to your honey's aching back. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT. Ah, a sweet melting five minute massage to his or her's aching back for forty (farty) nights.
3. ON VALENTINE'S DAY, an absolute MUST: A handful of chocolate kisses from your lips to his or her's when you part for the day and when you come home. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT. Ah, a mouthful of chocolate kisses from your lips to his or her's each day for forty (farty) days.
4. ON VALENTINE'S DAY, be engagingly sweet and seductive even if you fight or argue. This way you will finish the fight and get on with Valentine's Day. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT, and be engagingly sweet and seductive when you fight or argue so you can truly finish each fight and get somewhere in all your sweet squabbling. This will take practice, but after forty (farty) days and nights, you will purchase a Staples Button to announce the end of each fight. "That was easy."
5. FOR VALENTINE'S DAY, use your sweet and calm voice with your honey ALL DAY LONG. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT, and use your sweet and calm voice with your honey at least once a day, probably best when you first wake up and can feel only his or her warmth. "Oh, you feel so good! Will you marry me today?" Oh, this is a good practice for forty (farty) days.
6. FOR VALENTINE'S DAY, Invite and insist your partner to share equal control in your relationship. STRETCH IT OUT FOR LENT and invite, insist and promote the two of you being EQUAL partners for forty (farty) days.
You ought to be able to pull it off at least for Valentine's Day. But if you go the distance for Lent, for the forty (farty) days, hey, somethin's gonna happen. And if after forty (farty) days, you are sick of the sweetness in your relationship and you yearn to have back your bitter sour sorry self, and your terrifying fear of losing control, hey, what can I tell you? There's always next Lent!
NOW if you just insist upon being so damned traditional that you must have something to GIVE UP for Lent, well, here's another six point plan.
WHAT TO GIVE UP FOR LENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
1. Give up being the child in your relationship. Yes, for forty (farty) days.
2. Give up being ignorant about how the two of you got together in the first place. Yes, for forty (farty) days.
3. Give up blaming your partner for what doesn't work in the relationship for forty (farty) days.
4. Give up avoiding talking about the important issues for forty (farty) days.
5. Give up withholding for forty (farty) days.
6. Give up being totally in control for forty (farty) days.
If after forty (farty) days, you still prefer and insist upon being a child, ignorant, blaming, avoidant, withholding, and a tyrant, hey, you'll have another crack at it next Lent!
Now, in the meantime, check out this Super Bowl commercial. You probably will miss it or did miss it on Super Bowl Sunday. And if you like the chocolate seductive flavor of this hub, then check out the book: From The Frying Pan To The Jacuzzi: Gourmet Recipes For A Gourmet Relationship.
By the way, you don't have to wait till Easter Sunday to roll away the stone in your relationship. And many of you can probably resurrect a new relationship just for the choosing.
Now that is an interesting notion, indeed. And for some of you, such a new relationship can bring you forward to a time once again when you love EVERYTHING about each other. And for some of you, such a new relationship will let you see, perhaps for the first time, why your relationship has never worked. And then you can decide to stop holding that against each other. And what you do after that calls for a lot of prayer and tears and perhaps the courage to decide to choose life over survival and maybe even choose life over one of you having to die from the sheer suffocation of the relationship.
And what about that person standing at the top of the off ramp, sometimes holding a desperate sign requesting every and anything from beer to work to food to money? I constantly remind myself that person could easily be me.
And you know what? Standing at the top of an off ramp with a sign requesting whatever it is, is HARD WORK! If you think it is so easy, try it for yourself and see if you can last ten minutes. Yes, it is hard work, and the money these folks make, lets face it, goes back into the economy one way or another.
So if they do make four hundred dollars a day? Why does that bother you? It only motivates me to make four hundred dollars a day for myself and to stop complaining and being jealous of their good fortune. Now think about that!
And the next time you see one of those folks, let yourself make some eye contact. Let yourself see what is there. Give them at least a tid bit of your heart. Try it at least on Valentine's Day and then go the distance and do it for the forty (farty) days of Lent. On Easter Sunday, you will come out of your cynical shell and tolerate the bum in you and hopefully be more tolerant of human beings in general.
And, of course, we can't forget our children, both little and adult, for Valentine's Day and Lent. We are the most significant man or woman in their lives. So it pays us to resurrect a new man or a new woman on Easter Sunday for their sakes because ultimately they are going to live their lives in our shadow, for better or worse.
I always wanted my Dad's approval. Sound familiar? Well, I just recently found a Valentine's Day letter he sent me in 1994, telling me everything I ever wanted to hear from him. How was it I could not take in what was in that letter when he first sent it to me, three years before he died? How was it that on his death bed, I was still squirming and itching and scratching for his approval?
It's a letter I carry with me now, and every day I watch myself carefully not to repeat the cycle. And how will I know? Yeah, ironic isn't it? I am now seeking my son's approval. See how that goes?
So perhaps the final challenge for all of us is to stop seeking approval from outside ourselves. Instead, go inside and let Vern see and know for himself the depth and quality of his love for others and to have the courage to heal what needs to be healed.
Will you be MY Valentine? How about I will be YOURS, whoever you are!
Super Bowl Commercial You Didn't See
CONSIDER WRITING A POEM FOR VALENTINE'S DAY AND THEN CONSIDER WRITING ONE EACH DAY FOR LENT
I do not consider myself a great poet, but I love to write my own brand of poetry. Here is just a sample. If I can, so can you!
MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE?
Perhaps body language?
Maybe a dance?
Yes, a dance.
As the music in my soul
Moves my legs
Moves the air
In time with the music
In your soul.
There will never be a last dance,
Only this dance.
May I have this dance
THE WONDER OF THE SOUL
There are many wonders of the world,
Many more of the universe.
There is one wonder of the soul.
It never stops pursuing,
Never stops reaching beyond
Some self imposed,
Some just the way life is.
The wonder of the soul
Never falls short,
Never gives up,
Forever holding on
To its own singular wonder,
Here's a short and simple poem
Is not about going
An extra mile,
Not even about going
It is far more simple.
AND SPEAKING OF EASTER. Here's a poem, I wrote on Easter some years back.
Mary was a lover.
Running to the tomb,
She was missing Him,
In her wildest dreams
To see him there
So be a lover.
Missing your Beloved.
In your wildest imagination
To see the Beloved there
The other day will come
And so I run, my Love,
To rise with you
Each and every day.
I run, my Love,
To live with you
Each and every day
I run, my Love,
To love with you
Each and every day.
The other day will come
So I run, my Love.
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Inland Empire based Marriage Family Therapist and author offering psychotherapy, family and relationship therapy, and staff training and development.