IN THE NAME OF VALENTINE 

​The 14th of February  marks the celebration of Valentine’s Day the world over. Left to me, this day would have continued to hold zero significance had it not fallen on the day I obtained my Certificate of National Service. Now that I consider it in retrospect, my Passing out Ceremony couldn’t have fallen on a better day than this. I say so because the essence of Valentine and National Youth Service hinge on the idea service and sacrifice.

To set the record straight, I don’t celebrate I don’t. Or should I just say that the mind-set behind its present day celebration does not appeal to me. Many times, when I give this type of response to those who ask if I celebrate the day or not, I get shades of feedback. To some, I am uptight and hopelessly conservative. Another set of opinion valuers believe I’m unromantic while others think I’m simply miserly. I simply smile in response to these fantastic evaluations of my Valentinic perception. That I don’t celebrate the day doesn’t however mean I have issues with those who do – one man’s food is another man’s poison. Writing on this subject would therefore not be an act of self-defence but rather a clarification of my point of view.         

Certain factors determine my worldview. These factors also dictate how I relate to/with events and phenomena. For instance, I’ll rather let my brain do the thinking than my emotions. I don’t believe in the band-wagon philosophy and would therefore relate with an idea based on my inclination and informed perception . Also, before plugging into an idea, I often like to understand the rationale behind it. I should therefore like to investigate the origin of this celebration, its essence and it has evolved. The knowledge of the foregoing would then form the premise of my association or otherwise with the celebration.

The 14th of February  is a day set aside by the Catholic church to remember and honour the virtues of a Catholic priest named Valentinus who lived and was martyred in Rome in the 3rd century. This exceptional man would later be bestowed with sainthood hence the original name Saint Valentine’s day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. 

There however has been an age-old debate among religious scholars about the exact identity of the Valentine who is being celebrated. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, there were at least three early Catholic saints by that name. One was a Roman priest, the other a bishop of Terni while little is known about the third except that he died in a part of Africa. These individuals were said to have been martyred in different years but the same day and month – Feb 14. 

Based on consensus, the Valentine who was priest in Rome was agreed to be the one to whom the day was dedicated. Legend has it that the Valentine in question lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. The emperor was a pagan and therefore fomented persecution against the Christian faith. Because he believed that unmarried men made good and committed soldiers, he forbade his soldiers from marrying. Valentine, being a man of conviction chose to contend for the faith. He not only secretly joined converted Roman soldiers and their brides in marriage but also provided succour and protection to the Christians who are being persecuted. Emperor Claudius II later caught wind of Valentine’s activities and charged him with treachery against the empire. While in prison, it was said that he prayed for the blind daughter of his jailor and her sight was restored. This singular act prompted the jailor and his family to convert to Christianity. He was eventually beheaded in 296 AD on the 14th of February. It was in 496 AD that Pope Gelasius designated Feb. 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day. 

We can glean a number of facts from the history of the man in whose name the feast is supposedly being celebrated. The man Valentine was a priest – a Christian. This automatically gives the celebration a religious undertone. In fact, it originated as a Western Christian feast. He wasn’t just a Christian but also a man who understood what love means: sacrificial and selfless. More so, he was a man of conviction and was ready to die for what he believed in. Furthermore, he never stopped doing good even in the most unlikely circumstance. It takes a man of faith to heal the daughter of his jailor.

If the details gleaned from the personality of Valentine are anything to go by, the present day celebration of the day is a complete departure from what its progenitor stood for. To be candid, what most people celebrate today isn’t Valentine’s day but ‘lover’s day’. Although was an embodiment of love, his expression of love was humanitarian and was hinged on a moral cum spiritual compass and not some random display of romantic love. 7 out 10 people you ask about the significance of Valentine’s day are quick to say “it’s meant for the celebration of love”. They however become elusive and indeterminate when you ask them what love is being celebrated and how they celebrate it.

              

It’s obvious that the origin of this day for the expression of love isn’t romantic at all. Romantic connotations came to be associated with the saint and the celebration in the middle ages – a time when the practice of courtly love flourished. Geoffrey Chaucer (the acclaimed father of English literature) was credited to have inspired the romantic colouration of the ceremony after he wrote “Parliament of Foules” where he argued that birds chose their mates in mid-February and went ahead to situate it on Valentine’s day: “For this was Saint Valentine’s day…”. After Chaucer, people began associating Saint Valentine’s Day with romantic love.
Now that we know what is being celebrated is not Valentine’s day but lovers’ day, you’ll ask me “what’s the big deal in celebrating lovers’ day?” Well, that also depends on what lovers’ day is all about, who the lovers are and what the lovers do on that day. While, at least, I understand the dictionary meaning of the term ‘lover’ (one who loves and cares for another in a romantic way…), I don’t seem to understand what lovers are supposed to do on that day. Also, I’m at a loss as to the dynamics of love being expressed on that day. If I have to wait for a single day out of 365 (annual or once-in-a-year lover) days to ‘express love’, shouldn’t ‘my lover’ be wary of me and think twice. If I treat you with love and respect (in a moral and godly manner) every time, what do I do with/for you on the 14th of February? Do I need to wait till the next ‘Valentine’s day’ to give you a treat or show you how genuinely I love you? If I satisfy the preceding conditions and you still tell me “but errm, can’t we just do something special on that day”, then I should ask you to define “something special”.

I find the dramas that heralds and mar the celebration very interesting: A guy in Yaba decided to find an occasion to have an altercation with his girlfriend few days to Valentine’s day just because he couldn’t afford to part with his money on the D-day. Lady Who had a disagreement with her guy because he couldn’t even call her to say “happy Valentine” – that led to a breakup. The belle that double-dates is at a dilemma over who ends up been her val. In a bid to make the day special, Jack and Jane leads each other into temptation and do what only married couples should do. My next-door neighbour ended up being broke at the end of Valentine’s Day just because he wanted to do oversabi for his babe. In short, the drama is a mind blowing series with seemingly unending episodes. I don’t think our dear Saint Valentine will be pleased to see the dramas enacted in his name and therefore will not like to add to his grief.  

When the purpose of a thing is not established, abuse is inevitable. The truth is you have no business celebrating Valentine’s Day if you don’t understand the true nature of love (1Cor13 will do justice to that). I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day but I celebrate its original essence. I celebrate that essence when:

I tell people about and bring them to the Love of Christ regularly

I have love in my heart and not in my feelings

I position myself to be a blessing unto others

I visit and give what I can to the motherless and the disabled

I pray for you and wish you well even in your absence

I put your feelings first

I treat my friends and loved ones with love and respect

I choose to believe the best of/in you even when you appear irredeemable 

I share in your pain and joy

I can tell you “I’m sorry” (and mean it) when I’m wrong and accept your “I’m sorry” without misgivings

I can go the extra mile for you 

A man who understands love need not wait for a ‘special day’ to celebrate it. 

I rest my case.
Image credit:Pinterest

©ayansolaibukun

     

            

      

IGNORANCE 


Ugo’s dream of travelling to the United States finally came through. He was eventually granted the US visa after various futile attempts. 

Honourable Jerry, his uncle and a member of his state house of assembly was so excited about his luck that he decided to buy him a first class ticket. His uncle’s overly display of generosity surprised and baffled him at the same time. Why waste such precious amount on a first class ticket when he could have given him the cash equivalent.

He was going to be staying with his brother Charles until he had found his feet. Charles was well established as a business man over there and had assured him of a seamless transition. His brother’s assurance notwithstanding, Ugo chose not to leave everything to chances. He had therefore saved up a reasonable sum of amount which he could fall back on peradventure things did not work out as planned.

Ugo had spent his entire life in one of the backwaters of his state and had consequently led a rustic lifestyle. He had managed to finish his high school education but remained uninformed. For instance, he had only been told by folk that it takes a financially capable person to board a first class flight, he did not know the perks that accrues to it. 

The day to travel finally came and he boarded the plane without any incidence. He was however tensed up, being his first time on a plane. At different points in the journey, he observed that those on the first class section with him kept ordering for this and that. Some asked for expensive drinks and others mouth-watering dishes. He felt like asking one of the flight attendants for something to eat because he was beginning to get hungry. However, the thought of what his order would cost put his craving in check. 

On three different occasions, a smart looking flight hostess kept approaching him to ask for what he would like to be served. He kept telling her thanks a lot; I’ll be just fine. It was a first-class apartment after all; the gratification of one’s need on it must come at a heavy cost. These people ordering expensive stuffs are obviously wealthy. If they aren’t paying for their order in cool cash, they will pay via other means, he thought wistfully. As for him, he was only lucky to be on the same apartment with them- he dared not follow their example. The saying: cut your cloth according to your cloth kept flashing through his mind.

So it happened that he embarked on a hunger strike throughout the flight not tasting a thing – an eight-hour flight without even a glass of water. The plane finally touched down at the airport and he disembarked feeling famished.

 How was your flight? asked Charles his brother who came to pick him up?

 It was hitch-free, he replied without any excitement. But first thing first, I need to eat asap. I’m so famished. 

How do you mean you’re so famished, Jude enquired. Didn’t you have anything on your first-class trip?

You think I’m foolish enough to squander all my life savings on the delicacies of an eight-hour flight. Those who were rich enough to afford such luxury did. However, yours sincerely preferred to stay hungry rather than parting with the meagre sum I had on me.

Upon hearing his brother’s epistle on the virtues of prudency, Jude burst out in uncontrollable laughter. He didn’t stop laughing until his belly began to ache. A hungry and angry man that he was, John didn’t find his brother’s laughter funny.

Did I say something funny? He asked angrily. Oh, I sound like a clown to you now, right?

Not at all, said Jude who was still trying to recover from his laughing fit. You flew first-class bro. Don’t you know what that means? Everything you order is completely free. You’re entitled to anything you ask for as long as it’s available. You just lost your entitlement to the goodies that was available to you. 

As Ugo listened to his brother’s revelation, the feeling of anger and embarrassment enveloped him. In his ignorance, he had forfeited the benefits accrued to him. He had suffered right in the midst of plenty.

                             …………………………………………

The experiences of many believers can be likened to that of Ugo’s.

The truth is, every believer was once in a hopeless state and at the mercy of the devil. However, at salvation, Christ lifts us up from the dunghill of guilt and hopelessness and make us sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. If God wouldn’t spare His son but deliver Him for us, wouldn’t He with Him (Christ) freely give us all things? Of course, He will and the devil knows this too. His utmost desire therefore is that we remain ignorant of God’s plan and purpose for our lives, to grope for direction in the midst of so much light, and thirst desperately before a fountain flowing of living waters. 

What things were mysteries to the men of old have been revealed to us by the Spirit through His word. In His word, we gain access to revelation. The veils of our minds eyes are opened. We get to see the devil for who he really is and come to an understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus. 

A believer will therefore do a great disservice to himself when he fails dig into the Word. Paul understood the essence of revelation knowledge and prayed it, on different occasions, for most of his children. At different points, he kept repeating the statement I’ll not have you ignorant… When the eyes of our hearts are flooded with light, we get to know the hope to which God has called us, the richness of His glorious inheritance in us, and the immeasurable, unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in us. God is ever willing to reveal Himself to us while the devil wants us to remain ignorant of His word/will.

Be a student of the bible. Stay where the Word is been rightly divided and never stop praying for revelation knowledge.

We refuse to be ignorant believers! We win!   

Image credit: Pixabay 

©ayansolaibukun