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By Jesse Utz 

Valentine Oh! Valentine

Jess, shut up!


Last updated 2/5/2020 at 10:02am

A few years back, a lot of them really, there was an article written in this very paper entitled “Flames of Love.” It was written by Temple Stark, a reporter here that has since moved on to another riveting assignment. The feel-good article was about a young couple who met at the firehouse and sparked a connection. Who knew then the journey the couple would go on would be like searching a burning building? Sometimes dark, sometimes dangerous, twists, turns and obstacles sometimes becoming difficult to navigate the path.

But love is a burning flame that shows the way. In school, it sometimes starts as a little crush that sits in the pit of your stomach and develops over time. It feels a little different for everyone, but the ignition still feels the same. As adults, we soon realize that relationships are hard. We learn about communication and selflessness. All these activities fuel the flame as it grows bigger and brighter.

So, as the lovers’ holiday approaches, I have been thinking a lot about love. Not just how it surrounds our lives as fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, but also as we respond to our neighbors, communities and jobs on a day-to-day basis. Do we surround ourselves with things we love, people that love us, and things that bring us love? Love is more than just a feeling that we have for those who give and for those who take. It is a cherished and life-needing force for us all.

Where does that kind of love come from? Some will say it is in genetics. Some will say it is learned. Some will say it is developed over time.

I say we are born with it. It is in our DNA already when we are born, but not in the strand that makes us up, really, but in our spirit, from conception — a higher power at work putting the best kind of love right where it needs to be.

Life is difficult at times, and it can even be hard to love. But I like to think we were all placed on this rock for a reason: to love each other unconditionally. I know, an irrational thought, considering the consistent bickering, back stabbing, rumor rousing attitude of our world as we see it now. But there is love out there if we seek to seek it. Even in the dark spots, if we shine a light on it, we may reveal love there, as well.

In May, those two young starry-eyed firefighters, who fell so deeply in love with each other, will be celebrating 23 years of marriage. Through good times and rough they have kept the flames lit and fanned them even bigger. Although they may not still don the bunker gear that was such a part of who they thought they were back then, they still carry the torch for each other. These days it may be flames of love in a school house or in a church setting. It even grows brighter as they play with their granddaughter and nephew as a regular activity. But it grows the biggest when they pray together, especially when they are praying for others.

So, plainly said, allow yourself to love. Be vulnerable. Take a chance on a spark. Let God lead you down a path full of passion, lessons and sacrifice. Love each other like we ourselves would want to be loved. Open our lives and eyes to see it in everyone and everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you and to my own flame thrower Karrie. I love you, and so does He. I’m Jess saying.


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