You may be reading this column on or after Valentine’s Day: the lover’s holiday. For some, this day to celebrate and show love is one filled with mixed emotions. For some, Valentine’s Day is a day of nervous anticipation wondering if roses will be sent to their job. For others, it might include praying to God not to spend another Valentine’s Day by yourself or with your friends who also don’t have a date/significant other.
It seems like for so many, the fear of not having the romantic day that we believe we are entitled to or the fear of being taken advantage of prevents us from enjoying the love that Valentine’s Day offers.
This stranglehold of fear reminds me of Constellation, a 2007 movie that showed the far-reaching effects of both fear and love. Constellation starred Billy Dee Williams, Gabrielle Union, Hill Harper, Zoë Saldana, and others as a Southern family that deals with the effects of misunderstood and mishandled love. Gabrielle Union’s character Carmel Boxer provides a spiritual backbone to the fractured family brought together for her funeral after her death.
Carmel spent her life dealing with the devastation of never being able to completely enjoy a 1940’s romantic relationship because her boyfriend was white. Sadly, neither marries others but spends their lives overshadowed by the regret of what could have been between them.
Eventually, Carmel’s Paris, France-based artist brother, Helms Boxer, played by 1970’s heartthrob Billy Dee Williams, returns to their Huntsville, Alabama hometown to settle Carmel’s business affairs after her death. However, Helms also struggles with the fear of allowing anyone to get close to him or getting close to anyone. More than one of the major characters in the movie seems to silently struggle with embracing love for fear that it will scar them. As a result, they never seem to be able to enjoy love because of their long-held suspicions. The few characters that were able to overcome this fear were blessed to enjoy the freedom that comes from embracing love.
The movie excellently showed the inner turmoil that comes when we walk away from unconditional love because of the fear of being rejected conditionally. It paints a wonderful cinematic picture of the truth in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” One of the most memorable lines of the movie was when Carmel stated that it’s not love that leaves you scarred; it’s walking away from it that hurts you.
Regardless of your romantic situation this Valentine’s season, embrace and be open to the unconditional love that God offers. Luke 6:38 reminds “Give, and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Think about giving to others instead of waiting on others to give to you. Sincere gestures of love can be valuable to both the giver and the receiver. The beauty of Valentine’s is being able to give unconditional love with a grateful heart.
Shewanda Riley is the author of the Essence best-seller “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose after a Relationship ends.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @shewanda.