Redefining Valentine’s Day
I still remember the day when I roamed the Valentine’s Day aisle at Walmart looking for a small gift for each of my sons and suddenly started fighting back tears. After over twenty years of marriage, I no longer had a husband to buy a card or heart-shaped treats for. I would not receive flowers or chocolates from him. February 14—the day he’d asked me to marry him—would not include romance, because he’d decided he no longer wanted to be married.
Suddenly I resented everything about Valentine’s Day. And no, it didn’t help to remember that the real St. Valentine stood for much more than roses and candy and that card companies had turned his name into one more money grab. On this day, after decades of loving the hearts and flowers and one more excuse to wear my favorite color, it only represented all that I no longer had and might never enjoy again.
Not being one to ruin it for the rest of the world by becoming the Scrooge of Heart Day, I vowed to keep my misery to myself and make it fun for my sons. But when February 14 rolled around and I saw the bouquets displayed on Facebook and heard whispers of dinners out I couldn’t take it anymore. When my friend Julie asked how I was doing, I spilled all the reasons why I couldn’t wait for the day to end.
She didn’t make less of my pain or encourage me to remember the many other women who were also going without flowers and dates. My sweet friend gave me a hug, prayed for me, and assured me that I had every right to think Valentine’s Day was stupid. An hour or so later I heard a knock at my front door. It was Julie.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!” She held out a big heart-shaped box of chocolates and a card. I get a lump in my throat just remembering it. Obviously, it didn’t make up for the absence of my soon-to-be-former husband, but her thoughtfulness reminded me that I still mattered. Her gift felt like a love note from Jesus.
I thought of Julie last Saturday as my Bible study friends and I filled goodie bags with chocolates, handmade beaded bracelets, and other fun items for women who, like me two years ago, have a reason to resent the whole idea of Valentine’s Day. We made homemade Valentine cards that we called Love Notes from Jesus. (Each one had a verse inside and a reminder of His love.) The chance to pass my friend’s thoughtfulness on to others felt like a gift that surpassed the biggest, prettiest bouquet of flowers.
Then the actual day start creeping my way along with a twinge of dread. What’s wrong with me, God? Wasn’t I content to make it about others?
I guess God knew I needed something to make the actual day special. Today a good friend of mine called. She has been recovering from an illness for months and is finally able to go out.
“I know this is short notice, but since you wanted to celebrate my recovery, how about going to a Valentine’s Day tea with me on Friday?”
Once again I felt like I’d received a gift directly from the Lord. Later I realized that, since the day I sulked my way through the Valentine aisle, He completely refashioned my idea of this day associated with hearts and chocolate. It has become a day for celebrating love that goes beyond romance—those who need a touch from God, celebrating a friend’s health, and remembering that He knows exactly what we need.
As you look forward to Friday, do you know of someone who might be dreading it? How can you make the day a little more bearable for her?
If Valentine’s Day has been difficult for you, how has God helped you redefine it? When has He sent reminders of His love?