Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone. It was another in which I didn’t receive a card, chocolates, flowers or indeed any material gift from my husband. In fact, he has never marked it with me – not once – in the twenty or so years that we have only had eyes for each other. Why? At my request. Yes it’s in protest at the commercialisation of the most beautiful thing (love), but it’s also in solidarity with those for whom it is an achingly sad day, not to mention those navigating the trickiness of their first 14th February with a new partner. Giant teddy bear, anyone? This is a personal thing, a feeling I arrived at as a teenager, and imagine my fury when as a sixteen-year-old, one month into a relationship, that chap ignored my wishes not to receive anything and instead listened to the advice of a mate who told him that I couldn’t possibly mean that, that I was testing him, and that he definitely should get me something. I held that Forever Friends teddy in sentimental disdain for years until it ended up in a charity shop. But that’s another story. I am not anti Valentine’s Day, and I like seeing the various ways couples express their love for each other. I am just uneasy with, I don’t know, some of the uneasiness and pressure it can bring into a relationship, and the commercial expectation accompanying it. Moreover, it enforces society’s message that pairing off is the norm and the goal, when we know from 1 Corinthians 7 that staying single is eminently desirable. I don’t like stuff that makes single people feel inadequate or less than whole.
The Mister, my husband, is (thankfully!) perfectly in agreement. On previous Valentine’s Days we’ve had folk round for dinner or I’ve had some of the single ladies from church round for tea and cake whilst The Mister has made himself scarce. Oh how patronising of me, it might be said. Well I haven’t advertised it as a pity party for those less fortunate than myself in the romantic department, but just created the opportunity for a few people to be busy, should they wish to be, with no mention of St. Valentine. I like the idea of paying the love forward, somehow, celebrating love and my friendships, bringing joy instead of feelings of inadequacy and loneliness.
I had been thinking of writing a post mainly about my husband, ‘Best Husband In The World’ and all that, and about how #blessed I am, but it doesn’t sit right. Yes I spent Valentine’s Day in bed, recuperating from a rather tenacious virus, and yes he offered to take the day off work to look after the kids to facilitate that, and yes, I am blessed; but this week I have read a blog by someone recently and suddenly bereaved of his beloved wife; I have listened to and prayed for a friend whose harrowing ex-relationship circumstances are so beyond my idyllic bubble that I am still reeling; and I do not want to seem to gloat over how I just happened to be married to a good 'un. That, really, had nothing to do with me, my ability to pick 'em, or indeed whether or not I deserve him (I don’t) or deserve to be happy. That is not the point. Rather, I do not need a partner, good or otherwise, to shower me with things either to prove to me how loved I am or to bolster my self-worth. That’s not to say that I know these things intrinsically, being naturally fearful and fragile. Instead, I know that I am loved because God so loved me that he gave his only Son for me (John 3:16). I know that I am worth it, despite myself and my failings, because while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). There is no greater love. My marital circumstances will one day change. One day either The Mister or I will find ourselves once again single, widowed. (Unless of course we’re involved in some freak accident that takes us to glory at the same time, but I hope not, for the girls’ sake…) Once again single, I will still be loved and will still be worth it. God's love for me will not be shaken. I will be lonely, yes, and Valentine’s Day may well be hard. I hope I’ll still have some friends who’ll invite me round for tea and cake, or better still, bring it to me. In the meantime, as long as I’m not in bed with a virus or the like, pop round and see us next February 14th. I won’t promise cake, but hopefully we will bring you joy. You are loved.