SINGLE AND DREADING VALENTINE’S DAY
Cupid is back and “love is in the air”. For most part of the world, Valentine’s day is packed with romantic commercials, restaurants overbooked with ‘reservations-only’ and Hallmark stores adorned with red flowers and balloons.
Then there is you. Single. Alone and dreading Valentine’s Cupid. To add to that dilemma, if you have friends that will be beaming over chick flicks, romantic cards and chocolate hearts, you are certainly not removed from being reminded of what you don’t have and that you are undoubtedly going to be alone on the world’s most perfect relationship day.
I met Jensil when I was 16 and so Valentine’s Day was always something to look forward to. However when we broke up in between and that break up lasted almost 2 years, I remember feeling the dread of Cupid’s bow. Everything I had ever believed in Valentine’s Day came crashing down, reeling with loneliness and discontentment. Thankfully by God’s plan, our relationship was restored and we’ve been married for a sweet 20 years.
I can relate today to warm fuzzy feelings of Valentine’s Day but I can also vividly remember the ache of the unwelcome holiday. I was talking to a single friend not too long ago and we chatted about how little is spoken of the sorrow some feel on Cupid’s day.
She was pouring out her own aches and we talked about how some days that are meant for celebration can bring more pain that joy.
Our culture has a way of heightening our expectations. There is pressure to show love by buying gifts and doing things in galore. On the other hand, social media feeds don’t make it easy with infinite pictures that tell of the perfect boyfriend or husband or the perfect date night, leaving many inner musings that appear like Why am I still single? Am I unattractive? Am I unlovable? Am I a loser?
Aches and Feelings
As I chatted with my friend, she talked about her feelings. She felt lonely. She felt like God did not care. She felt like she didn’t have what it took to find a companion. She felt lesser than. It was such an eye opener. We concluded that this is exactly where Satan runs the victory lap over our lives. He controls our emotional appetites with fleeting feelings and consumes our desires with the distractions of this world. He wrecks havoc fuelling comparison and competition and ultimately diverts our attention from the One True Love that is able to meet our deepest needs.
Desiring a companion or feeling sadness or loneliness without one is natural. It is when we let our feelings rule over us that we risk true fulfilment as single women. C.S Lewis in Mere Christianity writes ‘If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’
Every desire invoked is a reflection of our great need for the Divine Desire Giver.
Like Saint Augustine who discovered that his ache was a sign pointing to a larger reality, so are our aches constant reminders that we hunger and thirst for something, rather someone more than ourselves – God Himself. There is a temptation and tendency, in this culture to band-aid these aches with words and gifts, quick fixes and promises and limit a woman’s experience of love only to the presence or absence of human relationships.
Standing on Truth
But our worth isn’t determined by whether or not we have a man by our side. Our worth is found in our relationship with God and our standing in Christ. Our worth rests on Truth. It is the Truth of the Gospel that changes our response to the pain of loneliness, including the pain of an aching heart. This Truth promises to satisfy our deepest lack with the overwhelming love and abundant life that Christ offers. (John 10:10)
You are a beloved daughter of God, made in His image, precious in His sight, chosen and celebrated beyond what’s advertised on the shelves in a store. Singleness cannot keep you from the fullness and fruitfulness that God promises.
Everything you feel on Valentines’ day may be a legitimate longing. But if in this season, God does not satisfy your specific desires, He does promise comfort, peace, strength, even support during waiting as you lean upon Him. No matter what your relationship status on earth is, nothing changes the truth that God loves you and promises to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). The purest, best love isn’t found in gifts or Cupid’s invitations, it is found in your heavenly Father’s affirmation of you as a beloved daughter. That affirmation is uncompromising and unchanging.
You could either choose to see your single life as a time to moan and mope about loneliness or you could use it to chase the Lover of your soul. In the sweetness of His relationship God will show you assurances of His love and His deep affection, even in the waiting places.
I have known and loved Jensil my whole life but I discovered an answer to the deepest ache of my soul when I encountered Christ in 2004. Over the years I have learnt that even in marriage, the holes in our hearts don’t disappear. If anything, marriage has taught me in a fuller way that Christ truly meets every need deep within. No husband, no boyfriend, and no man could ever meet those needs. Only Christ can.
Below are a few things I hope can encourage you to beat the blues:
1. Pray for your future spouse. Pray that he would walk closely with Christ and that God would use this waiting period to prune and prepare both of you. What you want is a good husband, not just a man that you are settling for.
2. Replace your ‘what ifs’ with ‘I am’. Write yourself a letter of affirmation, choosing words that you need to hear. If you are brave enough, call a trusted friend and ask her to tell you what she admires about you. Dare to listen to her words and write them down so you can savor them.
3. Lean in to the Word of God. Prayer is one of the incredible ways for us to tell God where we are and what we are feeling. Valentine’s Day has the potential of bringing pain but God’s Word has the power to soothe our wounds. Build up your knowledge now, while you are single, so that you are ready to apply it when you are dating, married, or raising a family.
4. Because this day focuses on romantic relationships, there is tendency to focus on what single women don’t have. Take time to write down a list of the people you do have in your life, rather than the one person you don’t. Focus on your gratitude for their influence on your life. Taking time to enrich another person’s life brings freedom from self-absorption.
5. Instead of waiting to be loved, can we make the decision to give love? Maybe support a married friend by offering to babysit or reach out to a widow or visit a sick person with flowers? Maybe a friend needs to know someone is thinking about them? Maybe there are needs in ministry?
Lastly, surround yourself with authentic friendships. ‘The Church,’ Pope Benedict explains, ‘is to be a network of charity, a Sacrament of God’s love in the world.’ Connecting to a community can be a tremendous place for healing and wholeness.
When women support other women, they recognize, believe and affirm the truth that they are loved, cherished and that God has a plan for their life.
Sister, I want to encourage you to see your singlehood as a precious opportunity to develop your relationship with God. See your single life as a call to holiness. These are precious years and God is in them with you. He withholds nothing. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Even if Cupid doesn’t strike on your doorstep this Valentine’s Day, know that you are fiercely loved by a good and gracious Father and that His inexhaustible, overflowing and incomparable love is a love worth celebrating on Valentine’s and every day.
A few other posts that I pray would encourage you this day
What we can learn from our longing
The single life: Don’t feel like a vocation wallflower