I Used to Hate Valentine's and the one that changed me.
DISCLAIMER: Just so you know, this has NOTHING to do with meeting my partner. Having someone committed to me for life is not the reason why I have found the redeemable in this day. Very little actually. With that in mind...
I used to hate Valentine's Day. Hate might be a strong word but what other can I use. It depressed me. It hurt. Even as far back as elementary school, back when you HAD to bring a Valentine for everyone, there was this incongruence because I saw the mean kids giving lovey-dovey stuff to the kids they were mean to and it all seemed so cheap, even back then.
And then middle school... all I can say is THANK GOODNESS for my best friend L. She is beautiful inside and out. All the guys loved her and fought for her attention. And what did she do? She sent ME candygrams with cute little sayings. If it weren't for her, that day would have been unbearable. High school and the rose thing didn't change much, and although I was focused more on getting good grades and my other activities, it still was a significant feeling of loss when none of the guys noticed me. I had been brought up to believe in the importance of marriage and my parents met in high school. I didn't know anything other than "I am missing out!!"
I look back now and can see, with some perspective, that I'm glad I "missed out" in those teen years. Not so much then. It hurt. It was a real hurt. In college, my cynicism about it all was on high alert which looking back now, was my saving grace. I remember a guy giving me a card on Valentine's Day (sorry, I can't even remember his name) that said, "I love you" and all I thought was "how could you love me? You don't even know me?" And little did I know that my cynicism was starting to change me but in a good way.
The changing day came in 1995. By then, I was making myself miserable believing that I was NEVER going to find a man who would want to marry me. I had glimpses of what it might be like in significant friendships, but nothing long-lasting. Past my mid-20s you know, a girl starts to wonder what is wrong with her.
That night now 16 years ago, I remember it clearly. I went home from work moping. All my married and coupled friends were going to the church Valentine's banquet. I was even babysitting for one family while they went. As I sat in their living room, surrounded by pictures of their wedding day, holding their little baby, it hit me full force that there was a very good chance that I would need to stop believing I would someday be married and start getting on with my life. I cried at the thought, but I also felt relief at the idea that I would just have to do this as a family of ONE, and that would have to be okay.
It's not like I never longed for the dream of marriage and a family again, no, it was a constant battle. But that was a turning point. Instead of continuing to rent an apartment, I decided to try to find a house I could afford. I started spending my Saturday nights building myself up and not pining away for someone else to do it for me. I started looking into grad school options that might turn my dream of working with teens full time (never once believing I would be a pastor at the beginning of that) into a reality.
And by the first Sunday of November 1995, God had done great work in my life. At the altar in the front of my home church, I prayed a prayer of surrender, the core issue being my desire for a husband and children. This was huge for me, since all along, even as a very young child, I had pictured myself always as a Mommy first. And that surrender brought room for a new calling, one that would unfold over the next few years as I decided to resign from a much-loved job, sell my first home, and move away from my beloved church family to attend Seminary.
Let your imaginations unfold the rest of the story. Seminary, the place where I went completely surrendered to living single for the rest of my life and serving God in His church, is the place I met my husband. We didn't plan to meet there. I sure didn't go looking for a husband. I went determined to go where God needed me to go regardless of what it meant.
Well... I celebrated my first Valentine's Day in a committed relationship in 1999, already six weeks married. I was approaching 31 years of age before the idea of celebrating significant and committed love on Valentine's Day to anyone other than God became a reality.
And I know I'm blessed to share life with Hubs and to enjoy the blessing of children in our family. But I live in another reality, that in God deciding to answer that prayer in my life after I had completely surrendered my desire for a husband and children to him, He asked me to make other sacrifices. I gave up living close to my parents and siblings. I gave up my country. I gave up the most precious and important relationships in my home church, people that I still miss daily.
To me, that is the reality of love, and the significance of setting aside AT LEAST one day to count our blessings, to remember why we love, and to remember who loves us. It's not about mushy gushy stuff but some pretty real, down-to-earth reminders that we are loved, whether it be by an earthly spouse is one thing, but we are loved by the Heavenly Father, who created us because He didn't like being alone. It is also a reminder that with love can come sacrifice almost always. And many have sacrificed in their love of me, and for that, I am truly grateful.
I don't hate Valentine's Day anymore. And it's not because I have a husband whom I dearly love, and who I know loves me. It's because I need as many reminders as possible that in the busyness of life, I sometimes don't say "I love you" enough. I need to remember the way God used this day for His goodness in my life. And hope that others might see it the same way.
Blessings Dear Ones,
(Written February 14, 2011, posted first to F@cebook)