“Happy Valentine’s Day!” The attractive civil court clerk smiled her big toothy grin at me as I handed her documents to file. She was a vibrant newlywed who surely had amazing plans to look forward to at the end of her day; whereas, I was a teenager scorned (or, maybe just between boyfriends). Her greeting was common and in no way malicious; but, nevertheless, I felt a strong urge to punch her in the face. Valentine’s Day held no joy for me and I did not want anyone else to enjoy it either! Everywhere I went, there were hearts and flowers. It was annoying, quite frankly. Was everyone in the world in love but me?!
Other years, however, were loads of fun. When I was thirteen, I got a card shaped like Xs and Os which opened up to be several feet long (I still have it somewhere). Another year, I got a teddy bear which recorded my boyfriend’s voice. Basically, if I had someone to love on me, Valentine’s Day was awesome; but, if I was not in a relationship, it was a day to be hated.
American culture says Valentine’s Day is a big deal… and if you do not have someone showering you with attention on that day, you are to be pitied – this message is hogwash. Dave Ramsey says, “If you tell a lie often enough, loud enough, and long enough, the myth will become accepted as a fact.” Advertisers and movie makers do not get to control what Valentine’s Day means to you; and, the fewer expectations you have going in to such holidays, the better off you will be! You can have a Valentine’s Day party with your friends, use it as an opportunity to visit the sick and lonely, or write letters to your future spouse. There is no script you must follow; and, if you are spending the day without a partner, that says absolutely nothing about your worth. Some people cling to bad relationships just to have somebody to call their own. Just because you are surrounded by couples does not mean you are surrounded by healthy couples.
For those who are in a relationship currently… beware the comparison game! If your friend’s man does more for her on Valentine’s Day than your man does for you, the temptation for bitterness will rise; but, it is important to remember everything he has done on other days of the year. The road of comparison always leads to disappointment. Instead of focusing on what we do not receive – gifts, experiences, attention – for Valentine’s Day, let us be openly thankful for what we do receive.
Ideas for Simplifying
When February 14th rolls around, I feel a little sorry for the men of the world. There is a lot of pressure out there for them to provide their special lady with a completely satisfying romantic experience. How do the majority of men compete with movies and jewelry commercials? Over time, these visuals – handcrafted diamond masterpieces and creative declarations of love spouted on the big screen – get inside our minds and dishevel our expectations. So much that even if a man loves his sweetheart more than life itself, one misstep on “love day” can have her questioning his affection for her. Let’s stop the madness! Valentine’s Day does not have to be complicated.
- Ditch tradition. Some years, Eric and I do next to nothing for Valentine’s Day and we are still happily married. It is possible to have an extremely low-key Valentine’s and it is also possible to have an over the top Valentine’s Day – if that is what you want to do. But, flowers, candy, eating out, a movie, and any other cliché romantic celebratory rituals are not necessary. Seriously, I would consider pizza, breadsticks, ice cream, and a Back to the Future marathon to be an amazing celebration. Or zip-lining! Or a food tour. If you and your love are a traditional couple, then feel free to be traditional; but, if you are a little worn out with heart-shaped boxes and waiting two hours for a table at an Italian restaurant where you can Lady-and-the-Tramp your spaghetti, feel free to shake up your holiday.
- Incorporate love languages! A few years ago, I surprised Eric with a Valentine card every day of February. Each card was also a physical touch coupon. One day might be a fifteen minute back rub and another day might be a five minute back rub. On some days, he received the grandfather of them all, the thirty minute back rub (any longer and I would lose feeling in my hands!). Quite obviously, physical touch is Eric’s love language and he feels most emotionally fed when I take the time and energy to hug him, rub his neck, or stroke his hair. He would rather me cuddle him than buy him a $300 gadget. Before deciding what to do for your special lady or gentleman this year, remember (or discover) his or her love language and use that knowledge to plan something your sweetheart will find exceptionally meaningful.
- Valentine’s Day can be Valentine’s month. It is a lot of pressure to cram all the loving gestures you want to bestow upon your significant other into 24 hours – or, 16 hours, if you desperately need your rest as I do. ~smile~ And, guys, an excellent way to make your lady hate Valentine’s Day is by suddenly turning on the charm that day and then taking her for granted the day after. Valentine’s Day can be a day to turn an already great relationship up a notch; but, if it is one of the only days of the year your sweetie feels appreciated, there is a problem. Forget about the commercials or worrying about what the girls at the office are going to say when you do not break your neck to obtain a dozen roses along with every other man in town. Your Valentine’s celebration does not have to happen on February 14th. It can be a steady celebration the entire month if you want it to be – one day a nice poem, another day a coffee date, one weekend a short road trip, etc. By February 21st, the flowers in all the other cubicles will be dying, but you get to be in party mode for another week! And, while your co-workers resume complaining about their boyfriends’ and husbands’ video games, you can smile knowing your lady feels cherished every day.
- Talk about it first. You can plan special events and surprises for your loved one throughout the year. Valentine’s Day is not your one shot, so asking your sweetie what he or she considers important on Valentine’s Day will not spoil your attempts to surprise him or her with a precious romantic gesture. If you wanted to reenact a full scene from her favorite romantic comedy, but she just wanted flowers and takeout, would you not be happy to receive such pertinent information ahead of time? ~smile~ You can save the production for your anniversary!
- Take some time before Valentine’s Day to remember the true meaning of love. Have you ever thrown a birthday party for someone and gotten so buried in the details that you forgot the true reason you were planning the event? We can get so bogged down with the idea that we must give our sweetheart a good Valentine’s Day that we forget the reason we celebrate in the first place. The point of a day like Valentine’s Day, (other than candy and card companies making a wad of cash), is to show appreciation to those we love. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of what love means and how it looks.
Quotes on What it Means to Love
Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving. – Paul Tripp
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13, ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – I Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Eric and I wish you all the sweetest Valentine’s Day imaginable. Whether you are in a thriving relationship, waiting to meet your lifetime buddy, or contentedly enjoying single life, we pray God reminds you of His great love in many special and specific ways. If you shout your love from the rooftops or spend a quiet night playing Scrabble, we hope your Valentine’s Day is everything you want it to be.
How can your Valentine’s Day be both simple and extraordinary?