When Valentine’s Day rolls around, we have an opportunity to chat with children about love. In cartoons, children perceive that two people love each other when their eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of them. Cartoon love is good for a giggle, but how do we explore what real love looks like—God’s love as well as our love for ourselves, each other, and all creation? Start by asking, “What does love look like?”
“I know that my mom loves my dad because she always gives him the biggest piece of pie.”
Love is kind. (I Corinthians 13:4)
It’s always a treat to be on the receiving end of being loved and getting the biggest piece of pie. But love is also about giving. At home, children can show their love by sticking “I LOVE YOU” notes on all the mirrors in the house or offering to rub lotion on their parent’s feet before heading off to bed. In the classroom, they can show care for classmates by sharing markers or helping clean up someone’s spilled milk.
“At Christmas, love is what is in the room when you stop opening presents and listen.”
Love is giving and doing, but sometimes it is simply being with someone. Spending time together can be as simple as sitting side by side enjoying the warmth of a campfire, lying on a blanket looking up at the night sky or hanging out in the dry space under an umbrella as the rain falls all around.
“Even when we leave our dog home alone all day, he still comes running and licks our faces as soon as we walk in the door.”
Love is patient. (I Corinthians. 13:4) When children talk about how their dog patiently waits for them to come home, we can explore how God shows patient love toward us and how that patient love reminds us to be patient with each other.
We love because God first loved us. (I John 4:19) We are loved by God, and God’s love motivates us to love. Putting wet bath towels in the washer to help out at home, praying for children in countries on the other side of the world, and planting flower habitat for bees and butterflies—they’re all acts of love. As we live our lives, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit will guide us to love . . . not just on Valentine’s Day, but all year long!