Guys, it’s the second week of February, and you know what that means. It’s almost time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day. I know it’s the toughest day of the year for us, having to stand in line with the other desperate guys at the grocery store, trying to buy flowers, candy, or a card at the last minute. It’s truly a Maalox moment on a Hallmark day.
Because I care, I wanted to share some good news for how you can turn on the romance on Feb. 14. If you’re looking to really impress your wife or girlfriend this Valentine’s Day, and save a few bucks while you’re at it, Waffle House might be just the place for you.
The restaurant chain began a tradition ten years ago, helping couples celebrate Valentine’s Day together. It’s a reservation-only event at Waffle House restaurants in sixteen states, including twenty-one locations in Alabama. Unfortunately, the closest participating Waffle House to our area is in Pinson, Alabama. But hey, surely she’s worth the drive, and I hear Pinson is lovely this time of year.
On the big night, Waffle House promises to dim the lights, light a few candles and serve up heart-shaped waffles for love-struck couples. Or, you can celebrate your love with a heaping plate of hash browns or a t-bone steak with eggs. (You’re welcome.)
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most guys need all the help they can get. Whether it be flowers or candlelight dinners, romantic getaways or sentimental cards, we are out of our element when it comes to expressing our love for our mate. But I have a theory–actually, an observation–from both my own experience and from what I have seen in the lives of other men and women, in and out of marriage.
The secret to genuine romance more than anything else, is usually effort. That is, selfless, out-of-the-comfort-zone attempts to please the other person. That is why most romance, both for us men and also for women, is usually somewhat awkward and uncomfortable to the one doing the romancing. It’s not what we would normally be inclined to do–it stretches us, and makes us feel vulnerable. That is why romance for a man is different than romance for a woman. It’s not necessarily about what you do, but how you do it, and the effort you put into it.
No doubt, love and romance are entirely different things, but perhaps there’s a reason they get lumped together with the big red hearts. Maybe, just maybe, the reason why we celebrate love on Valentine’s Day by focusing on romance, is because love itself requires effort. It involves that same vulnerability, a selflessness that is basically unnatural for self-seeking sinful humans like us. It is about putting others ahead of ourselves, and giving instead of receiving.
Jesus said it this way: “Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Now, that is effort. That is stretching beyond one’s comfort zone. That is vulnerable and risky and selfless. That is, and was, Jesus.
So guys, and gals, here’s some Valentine’s advice on romance from your friendly pastor and “love coach.” If you want to do better at showing love, if you want to see and know and understand what real love is, don’t look to Hollywood, and don’t settle for Hallmark. Follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who told us what love was all about it, then went to the cross and gave Himself away to show it.
Now that’s the kind of love worth celebrating. It’s even better than Waffle House!
By the way, this is not permission, guys, for you to spiritualize your futile attempts at romance, and give up altogether. Actually, it’s a call for you to work a little harder, just as it is for you ladies. I would even dare say that if each of us will offer Christ-like love to our mates, we’ll see a spark rekindled in our relationships like we never would have expected.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all. I love each of you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.