Written by Emily Hackerson
I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s day. I never quite understood why there had to one day set aside to say “I love you.” Shouldn’t we be saying “I love you” everyday?Growing up Christian, I was always told to love my neighbor, this is difficult to do especially when your neighbor might not be of the same political mindset, same college or major, or even like the same football team and so on. It is situations like these that call for agape.
Agape, in a simple definition is unconditional love. This is the love we are called to give ALL of our neighbors. This is different from eros and philos, which are the romantic and friendship type loves respectively. So, while I may not “love” my neighbor like a Valentine, I think it’s important to love them as human beings, or whichever of God’s creatures they are (I strongly believe animals are our neighbors as well, and my roommate Grace would want me to include bacteria and microbes).
I have felt this love within this campus ministry through the relationships I have made with fellow students. We all come from vastly different corners of this large University, but everyone is welcome and everyone is loved and valued. This love is agape love.
This love is recognizing a face from worship the previous week when you are on the bus from St. Paul and simply smiling and waving. A familiar face on a campus of over 50,000 people is invaluable. So, while the commercialized pink and red of Valentine’s day may not be my favorite, maybe this day is an opportunity to show your community you love them, not with chocolate boxes but with giving them your best self.
This can be difficult as students because we are constantly stressed and potentially running on very little sleep. In my experience however, people respond to positivity much better than negativity, including myself. I would use my stress to excuse being grumpy, but this only made me grumpier. Something as simple as holding an elevator or door for someone made me feel better. I know we hear these stories about doing something for someone creates a ripple effect and that feels cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. So, whether you’re a democrat or republican, STEM of humanities student, Vikings fan or Packers fan (skol) you are loved, not just by your Valentine but by your community.