Last Friday was Valentine’s Day. Among some of my single friends it is referred to as SAD ( Single Awareness Day). As a single woman in my thirties, this day brings about mixed feelings. On one hand it is just another day, in fact it is my older sister’s birthday. A day as far back as I recall that ended with a heart shaped cake for her. But it also was a day to see those around declare their devotion for their significant other ( or at least those they hoped would be). Declarations which I have not experienced. Then I would start to feel sorry for myself. I thought to myself that there has to be more, thus I began to think about what this day should really represent or mean.
Beginning with my childhood, I remembered how the day was celebrated. In elementary school it was day to receive candy and everyone got a valentine. It was in middle school that things began to change ( along with everything else.) Actually I remember things changing earlier than that with classmates beginning to pair off as early as the fifth grade! My first foray into the dating world was at this point when some girls told me a boy liked me. Silly me I believed them and promptly asked the boy if he did. He told me no.
In middle school and high school it was the candy grams, remember those? During class a messenger would come in and hand out a candy gram to someone ( usually girls but I do recall a few boys getting them). Then there were the balloons. Giant helium filled, bouquets of balloons that took up so much space in the hallways that one could hardly pass by them. Not to mention the couples making out with their balloons and backpacks blocking the way as well.
I would hold out hope to receive a candy gram. Whenever they were being passed out my heart would begin to pound in hope and anticipation for one. Hoping it would be from the boy I had telepathically told I liked him. Alas I do not recall receiving one from other than a friend. At least I had the candy to console me right? There was plenty of that too since in my family any holiday meant eating, and Valentine’s Day was no exception. Not only would I have eaten enough chocolate to make any one else sick but there was still a slice or two of my sister’s birthday cake waiting for me as well.
For so much of that time I thought of love as simply one dimensional. The kind spoon fed to me through rewritten fairy tales and hollywood. Again and again I was told that love was found through missed signals and comedic twists. That the only kind of love to hold out for was one in which the prince or who ever had to fight their way through darkness in order to save me. The one who would wake me from my stupor, welcoming me into my new life.
I longed for my prince to come. To wake me from my stupor. I longed to be loved so much that my heart would simply burst. I wanted that perfect hollywood movie moment, with just the right song and the exact right words at the most perfect moment. As time went on, I found I began to wonder if I would ever be loved at all. If too I was at all worthy of being loved because after all I was alone and therefore something had to be wrong with me.
I have to say that after much thought and prayer that in the end those fairy tales and hollywood movies were in fact right. Now hear me out. It occurred to me that the story of love that we hear over and over again; where the intended ( usually female) needs to be freed from some sort of spell or imprisonment.
That this story told the world over in its many forms is in fact the ultimate love story. The one of a God who so loved his people that he sent down his one and only son as a pure sacrifice ( John 3:16). To free us from the world of darkness. This is the only perfect love that exists. The one we all long for from our all too human partners. This is a love that takes us on warts and all, so to speak. This is the only love that can free us. That freed me.
Before I knew Christ I was an angry, mean person. I reveled in how being angry made me feel. It gave me a feeling of power when in fact I had none. In submitting to Christ and his love for me I have been transformed. It is not an easy process, submitting to him. Understanding that this love does not mean I always get exactly what I want in this life. At times it has meant to lean into him even when my Lord is silent to my urgent prayers. It has meant that I have learned much about his love for me. In seeing this love for me, I have learned about his love for others. I am learning still how to love others as God loves us all. It is only through this perfect love that I am at all the person I am today. It is only through this perfect love that I will become the person God intends for me to become in the future.
I always thought that love would come into my life through a candy gram or a bouquet of balloons. I thought the only way to be loved was in the way hollywood dictated. There is no perfect moment with just the right music and words. That the lie that somehow I am incomplete without a partner is wrong. Love does complete me, but only the love from God can do that. My perception of love was just too small. I am so grateful and humbled to have learned what love truly is from the Lord.
Only through learning about love from him did I wake from my stupor and understand that I am loved. In letting go of idolizing and at times being jealous of what others have in a relationship, I understood also I still have much to learn. I had to examine my heart and ask myself what it is I thought being in a relationship would give me that God has not. The hard truth was, there was nothing.
That no matter how fast my heart beats for another or what life we build together, God is the only reason we will know how to love one another. That is what it means to love. That is where the perfection truly lies. This is the conclusion I came to, I am wholly loved more than I can ever fathom. That is far better than any candy gram or perfectly written and edited hollywood moment. Being reminded of God’s love for me, for us all makes this holiday rather worthy in my estimation.
To my dear readers, you are loved no matter the stage of life you are in.