Okay okay, so I think I have made it pretty clear… I friggn’ love Valentine’s Day. I love pink and red, I love chocolate, I love flowers, I love love, I love cute romantic music (like, here, on my Valentine’s Day playlist!), I love celebrating love, I love showing love to my closest friends, I love decorating for Valentine’s Day…
I mean, for real. I love it all.
I am not a fool, though, and I know Valentine’s Day is hard for some. I have been there. I know what it’s like to hate Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s your first one since a hard break-up. The first since somebody close to you passed away. Another year that you turned down a date because it didn’t “feel right.” Another year you’re dating somebody just for the heck of it, because on paper it looks good, but you just can’t find the real feelings for them regardless of all the reasons you’ve come up with that you SHOULD be madly in love with them. (That one is so freaking real for my story. And, take it from me, that was more painful than it was fun.) The first year you don’t have a date. Whatever it may be, I know it can feel like a spotlight is on your life every year when February 14th comes around, reminding you your life perhaps doesn’t look like you wanted it to or thought it would.
I had year after year of Valentine’s Days where I had dreamed up this spectacular, surprise Valentine sweeping me off my feet, bringing flowers to school for me, leaving me a surprise on the hood of my car only to come out of nowhere serenading me to my favorite love song… It’s fine, I am not a hopeless romantic at all… And year after year I was disappointed, because my expectations didn’t match the reality of my day. Either things fell flat or the person I wanted to show me affection totally didn’t return it. But had I come into the day with gratitude for the love I had in my life, which was an immense amount, I wouldn’t have found myself feeling lonely or less-than by the end of another February 14th solely because something spectacularly romantic didn’t happen to me that I had dreamed up in my head. You feel me?
But, here’s the funniest part of it all. Y’all, I have had the hopeless romantic, movie scene things happen to me and they all, despite meeting every fantasy daydream of mine, didn’t satisfy. I am not kidding you, a boy once wrote a song for me and played it on a piano at school after math class for me. I didn’t even realize in the moment what was happening- I for real thought it was a friend sharing a song with me that he had written… but not for me. And what should have ended with a huge smooch in my movie scene moment actually left me feeling “bleh” and a little guilty that I didn’t feel fireworks for this incredibly kind guy and his romantic gesture. Another year, a guy made a mum for homecoming for me with his mom, and I ignored his phone calls because I was scared he was in fact making me a mum and I didn’t want to deal with telling him I wasn’t into him like that… I woke up to a beautiful massive mum on my porch that morning that I later found out he left at 4 AM for me. Ugh, I was the worst. I wish I could go back to 16 year old Hannah and handle a whole bunch of things differently. But, alas, we can’t do that. But, no joke, I think about these things from time to time and want to vomit at myself a little. O_o Another year on Valentine’s Day, a boy bought me candy and a stuffed animal, and he wrote me a letter about why he thought I was great. And, once again, I was appreciative… but nothing. No sparks. Again, I left just feeling guilty.
Now flip it, while dating my now husband, our first Valentine’s Day was a joke. It ended in tears and a huge fight. Then, the next day I showed up to roses on my desk at work… but they weren’t from Paul. And, our fight escalated exponentially… as you can imagine. Y’all, you can’t make these things up. And once again, Valentine’s Day wasn’t this grand event and I felt disappointed. And again, that was with my NOW HUSBAND. Even the guy I was going to end up with left me feeling disappointed on Valentine’s Day when we were just 3 months into dating when it’s supposed to be magical and overly romantic… right?
So my point?? No matter what comes your way, Valentine’s Day could be disappointing or, perhaps, surprising to say the least. Or, it can really be the best day ever. But what changes that outcome? Your attitude and perspective. Not the perfect date or perfect boyfriend or romantic gesture from your spouse. I want to challenge you as this holiday approaches. No matter what your “relationship status” may be, I hope you set some expectations, but that they are expectations for yourself- not ones you put on others. Expect to enter into the day with gratitude and to bless the mess out of everyone you love. Send texts to each friend and family member in your life to express how they love you well. Send words of encouragement, gift people in line at Starbucks with a free coffee, deliver flowers to a friend at work who has had a tough season. Whatever it is, you can manage your expectations and use your “hopeless romantic” desire in a way that loves others well. This applies to you whether you’re single, dating, engaged, or married.
As a wife, I will not expect my husband to be anything he’s not on Valentine’s Day. If he isn’t a hopeless romantic all other 364 days of the year, he’s not going to be on Valentine’s Day. He will show me he loves me in ways that he wants to (and, he always does now… and he’s really good at it!). And, regardless of what love may be shown or romantic things may or may not be done for me on February 14th, I know without a doubt that I get to use the day to meet my own expectations of loving others. Does this make sense?
And here is my final encouragement to you, wherever you’re at and whatever life stage you find yourself in: You have a God who loves you so deeply. And, shocker, He loves you way better and more faithfully than even the best husbands or boyfriends. I mean it. I am not just saying “Hallmark-Worthy” things to make you feel a little better about a holiday. I am telling you, God loved you first and it’s because of that GREATEST love we have even a glimpse at His love through the gift of relationships. Our friendships and romantic relationships are literally just a tiny glimpse at the vast love our God has for us.
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8: 31-39 (The MSG)
No matter what comes your way, you have a God who loves you immensely. Exactly as you are, broken and -perhaps- a little jaded. He loves you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet friends. Know you’re loved today (and every day).