Steven Callis mug

The signature line of the 1970 film "Love Story" declares that love means never having to say you are sorry. I was taught early in life that I should willingly and genuinely apologize to someone who experienced a hurt because of my actions or words. Most likely you were given similar training in your childhood years. This new idea about love seemed to contradict how I was raised.

Around the same time as the Erich Segal film, cartoonist Kim (Grove) Casali informed her readers that love is being able to say you are sorry. Casali was the creator of the popular “love is…” cartoons that pictured a boy and girl with a phrase or sentence describing love printed beneath the drawing. The cartoons originated from love notes that she had drawn for her future husband, Robert Casali.

In 1975, Casali commissioned cartoonist Bill Asprey to assume her drawings under her pen name so that she could devote more time to caring for her cancer-stricken husband. She died in 1997, but the carton continues to appear daily in newspapers, except for Sundays.

There are many means and places to discover what love means. Webster’s dictionary offers nine definitions of love, including, “a score of zero (as in tennis).” The Greek language has four different words that all translate to our single English word, “love,” distinguishing between romantic love, familial love, friendship, and unconditional love such as God has for man.

My primary source of learning about love was my mom and dad; not so much that they sat me down in an educational endeavor, but they lived the example of love in our home consistently. My love as a husband and as a father was conditioned primarily by living under the influence of my own dad. Through my parents I was also trained in love for other people, my country, my church, and God.

The Christian faith believes that all love originates in God. The Apostle John wrote, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The Bible book of Genesis teaches us that love and marriage are not man’s idea, but God’s plan. It begins and ends in Him.

It was not until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love. It originated as a Christian feast giving tribute to Saint Valentinus, a third century Roman saint. I doubt, however, that originators in the third or the 14th centuries meant for love to be celebrated only one day each year! Nevertheless, the occasion is a great opportunity to be demonstratively thankful for friends and family who mean so much to us. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.

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