Redefining Valentine’s Day

Feb 13, 2014 by

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MP900341550[1]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?     

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12 Comments

  1. Oh Jeanette,
    I love this…thank you for sharing your heart (no pun intended :)) This is a beautiful reminder of the love of Christ and how it permeates all that we are and all that we do when we let it.

    Blessings to you!!
    Michelle

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you, Michelle! God is teaching me the many blessings in making difficult days about others.

  2. Angela DeChambeau

    In my case my husband unexpectedly passed away after 25 years of marriage in an outpatient medical procedure. For several years after his death I didn’t like Valentines day because I didn’t have a valentine anymore. Then, the Lord showed me to change it around. He showed me to make it a day of celebration for the years I had with my husband. I didn’t need anyone of the Lord. He was my valentine and my husband now. I then held my head high and went into an establishment that was doing valentines meals. I went in and ordered a meal for one and sat at the table by myself knowing God was beside me. I toasted to my husband and the life we had and then thanked the Lord for being my husband. It changed my whole outlook. I didn’t sit home and weep. I will also miss my husband but God has shown me I can go on with His help. Every year I don’t sit home on valentines day. I go out by myself and celebrate the goodness of the Lord or take a widow with me. We can either die or live and I have chosen to live. God has a divine purpose for me and takes my hand and holds my heart in His hands. Don’t weep. Have a great Valentine’s Day–God gave us our first Valentine. Can’t beat it.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      This is so beautiful, Angie! What a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing this. It’s amazing what can happen in our hearts when we choose to move forward and enjoy life, including difficult holidays, in a new way.

  3. I love the idea of reaching out to other hurting moms on Valentine’s Day. It’s a hard day for me, too; but after 14 years of single parenting, I’m over it. I don’t really think about it much anymore. I wouldn’t complain if someone gave me chocolate though…
    Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

  4. Thank you for this touching reminder of Who our first love truly is and who we are commanded to think of when it comes to love. God says love Him and others. The rewards for obeying His greatest commands are eternal.

    This will be the first year, in the 22 years we’ve been together, that my husband and I will be apart on Valentine’s Day. I’ve never missed a holiday with my 17 year old son. But this year, I’m out of state helping support my family as God carries my mom through the first stretch of her battle with Lukemia.

    I was feeling bummed when I bought cards and mailed them, wondering if they would think of me in advance. I was even a little worried about how I would feel if they totally forgot, until I read your post.

    Thanks for sharing your story, lifting my spirit, and encouraging me to love selflessly this Friday and every day after February 14th.

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you, Xochi! I pray that God will help you feel connected to your husband and son tomorrow even though you are apart. I pray also that He will send expressions of His love your way.

  5. Cheryl Thompson

    Beautiful! Wow! Thank you for sharing your journey…and it is a journey! Each Valentine’s Day is expanding your capacity to love people, first your sons, then your friends and now you even people you haven’t met! I hope you have the most wonderful time with your friend tomorrow, celebrating her new lease on life. That is the best reason in the world to celebrate! New life!…hers and yours!!

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Thank you, Cheryl! I love having you on this journey with me. This does feel like a new lease on life :).

  6. Rebecka Shiles

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts …..a friend of mine shared this blog post with me today. My husband passed away in 2011 – so Valentine’s Day for me is all about my two young girls. And on a day when couples are doing “couple things” – it’s yet another reminder of being alone. God is faithfully and diligently trying to reshape the way I define EVERYTHING – He is giving me exactly what I need – just when I needed it – and today I needed to read your blog!

    • Jeanette Hanscome

      Rebecka, I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. I can’t imagine how painful days like Valentine’s Day must be for you. Praise God for His faithfulness to you, and for His ability to help you reshape such days. I pray that today will be an extra sweet one for you and your girls.

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