As it swings round to Valentines Day 08 – my first ever with a boyfriend – you’d think I would be delighting in the fact that I finally have someone who wants to make me feel special.

But I’m not.

You see, this Valentines Day, I can’t help but think that our society has a double standard on love.

The past year has (thankfully) been very child-filled for me. No, I don’t have kids of my own, but for most of 07 I was able to spend time with a group of under school-age children while their Mums studied the Bible. And I have recently started a job nannying 2 lovely children a few days a week.

Being around children has taught me a lot about love.

When I first started with the group of toddlers, I became very easily discouraged. Some weeks I left feeling like I was at my wit’s end. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Why weren’t they behaving like sweet little angels? Why did they insist on having something new to do every 30 seconds?

After a few weeks of feeling like this, I turned to God in prayer. I begged him to help me love those kids and to have abundant patience.

I can honestly say that I began to see them with new eyes. No longer did I feel like my role was threatened by one thing going wrong. I didn’t label them “naughty” in my head if they didn’t listen to me. I started to see them grow and learn new things. I saw the beauty that was in them.

It was truly amazing to share in their lives and to realise that my love for them did not have to depend on their behaviour. It was a constant. The choice was mine.

I’d imagine this is even moreso the case for parents. They have bad days when it seems like things couldn’t be worse, but they never doubt the love they have for their children.

I wonder… if we could somehow grasp this concept of love (unconditional, constant, powerful) and apply it to marriages, would there be less divorces?

I mean, while it’s quite normal for people to divorce over “irreconcilable differences”, who has ever heard of a parent abondoning their child for that reason?

We should not be so quick to attach love to behaviour, condemning the slightest change.

Now, I may just be young and naive for imagining that this could work, but I have hope.

If I can love a rowdy bunch of kids who have no desire to make my life easier or make me happy, then I’m sure all those married people out there can make more of an effort to love their spouses, even when they don’t benefit.

Happy Valentines Day.