Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day.

I was asked a question today that seems simple.

So, what do you think about Valentine’s Day?

In all honesty, I had completely forgotten.  Between work, emotional fragility (see previous post), other commitments, and the Olympics, it hadn’t even really occurred to me that the 14th should be anything more than a busy Friday.

Which is interesting.

Because my first gut answer to the question is: it’s an over-marketed consumer-driven Hallmark holiday where people (Americans) spend far too much money/time/energy on trying to impress and outdo others in proving the extent of their love. 

And the fact that I had completely forgotten about it speaks well to the advertising and marketing that goes into building it up, making the viewer or the reader believe that they are a failure as a parent if they don’t provide just the right handmade cards for the kiddos or a failure as a significant other if every kiss doesn’t begin with Kay diamonds (those commercials are especially vomit-inducing, if I remember correctly).

Now, let it be said loud and clear – there is NOTHING WRONG with cards and diamonds. Goodness knows I love BOTH of those things.  And the chocolate and the roses and anything else that usually gets associated with Valentine’s Day.  I’ll take ‘em all, as long as it’s given with a heart of love and with the motive of blessing… not trying to prove anything.

Which is why I love holidays like this on the ship.  I got a few cards, a few goodies, and felt much loved, and that’s the whole purpose, right?

 

But back to the question, because I know that wasn’t the answer my lovely friend was looking for.  Deep within her simple question is something deeper: As a single 33 year old woman, how does your heart respond to Valentine’s Day?

It’s interesting reading my Facebook feed. There are plenty of sweet comments and status updates heralding the love of friends and family.  There are also a few that make my heart sad; in the anger, bitterness, hurt, and loneliness they reveal.

At one point, many years ago now, that was me. I was the one saying I’m just fine being single, thank you very much!  in that defensive, angry tone that leads you to believe and know that in fact the exact opposite is true.  You see, I believed the commercials, the marketing, the hype, and believed that I wouldn’t be complete without the sweetheart and diamonds and roses and all.  Every time I saw one of those Kay commercials I would feel empty, longing, my heart buying completely into the lie that unless I had those things there must be something seriously wrong with me. 

Somewhere in the last decade of world travel and service and giving and receiving love beyond what I had ever imagined, everything changed.  I’m content in a way I never thought possible, my life is awesome, and that longing? It’s just not there any longer. When people ask if I want to be married, or settle down, or have a family, my response is generally something along the lines of: I’m certainly not opposed to the idea. If God sees fit to bring someone special into my life, and calls us to serve together, great! But I’m not waiting for it or planning my life around it.

Ultimately, God knows best.  And He knows where I live.  It’s not like he’s thinking oh geez, if only she didn’t live on that weird boat in Africa, I could do something wonderful for her… That’s ridiculous.  

So the answer? I love Valentine’s Day, just like any other day.  I love that it’s a special day for a lot of people, and I love that many people find extra amounts of joy in it.  I hope that love is spoken around the world on this day… but much, much more than just this day.  I would rather have flowers from a sweetheart on some random day out of the blue that on this particular day just because Hallmark says he has to give them.  And I never, ever want a love that feels like it can be, or needs to be, proven by any material means.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends, and wherever you find yourselves, in whatever relationship status or life stage or trial or grief, seek out the joy in it.  It is there to be found.

 

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