I remember one particularly bad Valentine’s Day from years ago. I was very single, one of those seasons of singleness in your late 20s that makes you eat a lot of carbs and imagine how your apartment would look with a minimum of 10 cats. It was still dark (dark and cold) when I woke up to get ready and drive to an out-of-town seminar 1.5 hours away.
After the seminar got out, I decided to go downtown and see the city for a bit; traffic was crazy and as I looked away from the road for a second to find a place to park, I felt my bumper crunch against the car in front of me. And that car hit the car in front of it, which hit the car in front of it, which hit the car in front of it.
A large, angry woman jumped out of one of the cars screaming profanities. Teenaged hooligans sitting on the side of the road started hooting and hollering. I cringed in my seat. Everyone emerged to check for damage and miraculously enough, there was none. Nobody even cared who started the chain reaction of collision, not even the large angry woman. They just got back in their cars and continued on. I shook with relief as I pulled into a parking garage.
When I was ready to head home, it was dark and there was horrible traffic – the bumper-to bumper kind with brake lights flashing up and down rows of barely-moving cars. As the roads headed into more rural territory, it finally cleared up and I realized I was hungry. In fact, I was hangry. I dialed my favorite sushi restaurant to order takeout only to be told (in a condescending tone), “Uh, we don’t do to-go orders on Valentine’s Day.” I could have cried, but hung up instead.
“SINGLE PEOPLE NEED TO EAT FOOD ON VALENTINE’S DAY TOO!!!” I screamed to nobody, in my dark car, hurtling down the cold, dark interstate all by itself…all by myself.
When I got back to town, I went to the grocery store and walked past teddy bears, red roses, giant heart balloons… and bought grocery store sushi, cookies, chips. I went home (to my empty apartment) and ate all of it while watching a horrible romantic comedy, then had a good self-pitying cry and went to bed.
In retrospect, that day was so awful because I had felt unwanted, rejected, left out of the world of candy, flowers, expensive prix-fixe menus. I felt left out of love.
If you feel unwanted, rejected, and left out because you are single – I get it. Really, I get it. I’ve been there many times.
BUT – if I could go back and talk to my single self on that miserable Valentine’s Day, I would say this –
A romantic relationship does not make you whole. Your life does not start when you become part of a couple. When you focus too much on things you don’t have but think you want – it sucks the joy out of life. It leads you to poor decisions, to living out of fear and a place of scarcity.
It leads you to accept “well, it’s something” or “maybe this is as good as it gets” when you should be waiting for “this is awesome!!” Because really, God knows what you need and when you need it and in seasons of waiting we are prepared to be ready for the awesomeness He has for us.
Live your life with joy now, because you are whole and complete now. Realize you are wanted, chosen, loved. Realize you have a lot to offer, and don’t you know if you feel this way that others feel the same way too? You’re not alone.
Invest your love and affection in friendships, in serving others. Take good care of yourself and learn new things to grow your confidence and to be an interesting person. Be aware of and thankful for all the good things you have. Learn to receive the deep, satisfying, and unchanging love of Jesus so you can understand what love is actually all about.
And on Valentine’s Day itself?
Make yourself a nice dinner and be thankful you’re not waiting 2 hours for a mediocre meal that costs twice as much as normal because Hallmark said it should!
Invite friends over for a Palentine’s Day party!
Get together with other people and set up a Valentine’s Dinner Party for the local homeless shelter, women’s shelter, whatever!
Get some cute cards and write letters of encouragement to people you care about! Put together goodie baskets for them!
Listen – Valentine’s Day itself was more or less made up by an English dude known best for being a poet in the late Middle Ages. Now that it’s a thing that has exploded in the name of capitalism (what better to sell things with than the noble theme of love, or the fear of people being unloved) don’t let it take a hit on your worth and don’t become cynical.
At worst, it’s another day. At best, it’s a special opportunity to shower more love and joy on the world at large.
So on Valentine’s Day as a single person? Know you are loved without measure and go forth with confidence, sure of your value and ability to light up the world around you.