I hated Valentine’s Day when I was younger. There was a lot of pressure to have someone to love, romantically, which is a terrible to place upon elementary, middle, and even high school young people. In my early twenties the pressure mounted, especially being a Christian, because good Christian men should fine a good Christian woman to help begat good Christian families (at least that is what James Dobson sold a previous generation). When I began dating the woman who would become my wife I admit that Valentine’s Day remained icky, because it reminded me of the feeling of being insufficient in myself, or unwanted by others.
Now, I have married a person who is truly my best friend. My wife (Miranda) has changed my life for the better in all the areas of growth and maturation that are necessary. Though I continue to wrestle with the days leading to Valentine’s Day, because I am a horrible gift-giver if I don’t know exactly what a person wants, there is a marked difference. Now I see Valentine’s Day as a reminder that I am loved for who I am. My wife loves me as me. I see it in how she looks at me. I hear it in her voice. I know it by the small things she does all the time to show me she cares or that she is thinking about me (and she is quite thoughtful, very caring). I do my best to offer as much in return, though it is a challenge because she is a far more loving person than me. Yet she motivates me to develop a loving, caring posture toward another person, something that didn’t come easily for me.
I have an amazing wife. I don’t deserve her, but I am thankful that she doesn’t agree. She is the love of my life. Seriously, I have no idea how I came to be married to such a wonderful person.
Now, back to my previous words about Valentine’s Day: for those who hate this day because it makes you feel insufficient, or unloved, avoid the marketing of the day as much as possible. I know it is hard, but the pressure it creates to “have someone” misses the point. There is nothing that I could have done as a single person to prepare myself to “find” my wife. We met each other, we dated, we got engaged, and now we live day-by-day trying to understand what it means to be married. It is work, and an investment, but a wonderful one. Cupid and flowers, boxed chocolates and expensive dinners won’t teach you a thing about commitment. If you are committed to someone, then these little delights are a treat, but hardly the core to what it means to love someone. If you are single develop in becoming a caring person, a dedicate person, who works hard for others. These are the virtues that you will want to have formed in order to love someone for a lifetime, not fancy words, a thick wallet, a fast car, or attractive apparel. Work to become a person who you can appreciate. If it happens that someone else begins to appreciate you as well, you will have begun your relationship the right way. Anyone can buy a box of chocolates, but not everybody works to become the sort of person who can give themselves to another for a life time.
(Incidental, but does anyone actually know anything about St. Valentine?)
Good words, Brian. I think all people would do well to remember this, whether married or not. I assume the journey only continues (though very different) as a married person. I appreciate your encouragement.
Thanks for this encouraging post!
I have read that our St. Valentine may be one of three different people in the ancient world. Apparently the mythology about the man is better preserved than our history.
It does continue, and though there is a sense of dependency on the other person, I think this is a far cry from a potentially unhealthy “interdependency” where self-worth rises and falls with one’s spouse. It is good to have a spouse who encourages, but in order to be an encourager to your spouse I think a sense of strong self-identity must be established (not selfishness, but self-identity, awareness) and the best time to come to understand one’s self may be during those single years.
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