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Have you ever thought ... How many times we fail to express our love and appreciation to those so important to us?

I am sure you have already noticed in various stores and in commercials, you are being reminded that in less than two weeks it will be Valentine’s Day.  Don’t ignore the warning.  But rather be prepared to express your deepest feeling to those important to you and your world.  Don’t let the Fourteenth get here and not be ready.

Do you remember, years ago when you were of the age that you were a student in the early grades of school?  A few weeks after you had returned to school after the two weeks you were out for Christmas and the start of the New Year, the next exciting day would be Valentines Day. One of the things we did to get ready, was to make a little “mailbox” out of construction paper. You wrote your first name in large letters on the outside. This was so that those who intended to deliver a valentine for you would know where to put yours.  You also either went to the “five and dime”  store and bought a book or bag of inexpensive valentines so you would have the thirty or so you needed to put one in everyone’s “mailbox” or you worked hard to hand make a valentine for each “mailbox” that by now had been mounted on the chair rail around the room,  probably in alphabetical order.

I learned two lessons from those years of signing and delivering valentines to everyone. One lesson was It is good to be nice to all.  You don’t want someone to feel left out and hurt in the process. And even to this day, there will be those in your world who will feel lonely and rejected.  Take the time to express your appreciation to all who make up your world.   

But on the other hand, I learned that we must be much more personal in expressing our feelings toward those close to us. Going through the motions is never enough.  The meaning of Valentines today is to express our deepest feelings to those most important to us.  

If you are buying a gift, make sure it fits the one you are getting if for. If the candy needs to be sugar-free or the treat glutton free, make sure it suits the one receiving the gift. That is why it is good not to wait until the last moment.

As for words, don’t leave all the writing to Hallmark or American Greeting. Express what you truly feel in your own words.  Dare to risk opening up yourself to your Valentine.    

An older couple was sitting on their back deck watching the sun setting. The wife asked her husband. “You know I was wondering, we’ve been married for these many years.   Why is it that you never say, ‘I love you’ anymore?” After a moment of silence, the husband replied, “I told you once, and if I change my mind, I will let you know.”

We may laugh but we all know that will never work. To maintain a strong relationship, we have to communicate with each other. None of us can read the other’s mind.  Words are our bridges to each other.  It is through words we build and strengthen those relationships that so important to us.  Of course, the opposite is also true.  Poorly chosen words can be hurtful and destructive.

One advantage to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day is that we are given a reminder to communicate our love and appreciation to those important to us. Of course, one day is not enough. Communicating our love and appreciation for another needs to become as much a part of who we are as breathing is for our physical survival.     

I know it is ten or so days till Valentine’s Day.  So, I challenge you to use that time to think of ways that will help you express your love for another.  And particularly in ways that focus on the one you love. 

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.