On the radio the past few days, the DJs have been asking what people really want for Valentine’s Day from their significant other. Is it the typical chocolate, flowers, and jewelry? Or is it something else? A clean house, time alone together, a nice dinner, a thoughtful gesture? What kind of demonstration of love are we truly hoping for?
My first response to these kinds of radio conversations is to half-shut them out, since they don’t pertain to me. After all, since there’s no significant other, there’s nothing to expect on the 14th of February.
But then I realized – I do want something for Valentine’s Day. I want something, not just for me, but for all the single people who either groan when February comes around or laugh it off like it’s no big deal.
What I want more than anything is this –
This Valentine’s Day let’s show up and be there for each other. Let’s listen to each other, share what hurts, and celebrate what we love about each other.
Let’s not be glib about it and pretend it doesn’t matter that we don’t have a significant other. It does matter. It hurts the heart to not hear the words “I love you,” and to not be kissed and to not feel that you matter the most to someone.
Let’s make others feel seen. Let’s hold their ache to remind them that they’re not alone in the middle of it. Let’s listen to one another and not try to “fix” everything – but just say, “I hear you. And I’m sad with you. And I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”
Let’s also help one another see that their worth is so much more than having a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. Let’s celebrate what is of value in each other and share in what brings us joy. Let’s give beauty to the role and the season we’ve been given and dignity to what others so easily want to pity.
Let’s be happy for the things that we’ve been given – like jobs and houses and adventures and college degrees. Let’s tell others how grateful we are for them and remind them what a gift they are to so many people.
How can we do both? Wouldn’t that be contradicting ourselves – living like a hypocrite?
No, I believe that we can be sad for what we don’t have – and still want it – and also be grateful for what we do have – and be content with this day and this assignment. Yes, I long for a husband – every day of my life. But I’ve also learned to immerse myself in the moment and find great joy in what God has asked me to do – right now, today.
And part of that is loving people wherever they’re at in their life journeys. For my 5th– and 6th-graders, it’s loving them through the growing pains of adolescence. For my college students and close friends, it’s loving them through their single journeys and big life decisions. For my family members, it’s loving them through all of life, no matter what they’re going through.
I’m not an expert on loving people, but I want to get better at it. I want people to know that I care about their souls, not just about checking a relationship box. I want people to feel that I see them, I love them, and that I’m there for them, even when I don’t have the answers.
And maybe if we started loving people better, we would judge them less and throw out fewer cliché responses. Maybe it would encourage us to be more vulnerable with one another – to step out of our shame closets and find hope in the circle of community that we have to offer. Maybe it would reveal the way that God loves us – unconditionally and permanently.
Maybe if we stopped being so busy and just looked into each other’s eyes over a cup of tea we’d see the beauty and the brokenness of our souls. And we’d find what true love actually looks like. Not cheap gifts that get thrown away after a few days. Not cheap words that aren’t backed by any action. Not the cheap movie montage with a pretty soundtrack.
But fierce love that says, “I’m here. I care. And I won’t give up on you.”
That’s the kind of love we all need more of – married and single people alike. And we need it every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. But what a precious reminder this holiday is of that kind of needed love.
May we look past the plastic red hearts and the freakishly giant teddy bears and find the kind of love we’re all craving the most – God’s love displayed through genuine people who keep showing up for each other day in and day out.
That’s what I really want for Valentine’s Day.
And I pray that I can be used as that very gift to others for the glory of God.