As you are probably aware, today is Valentines Day. While I love my wife, and am very grateful for her, I find Valentines Day to be relatively unromantic. The expectation and pressure kills the spontaneity and uniqueness that I think is at the heart of true romance. Worse, how does it make my “single” brothers and sisters feel? I was never the popular kid in school, and had my share of Valentines Days awkwardly wondering if I would ever really have my own “valentine”. It is one thing to have a friend comment on a date, or another friend celebrate and anniversary, but to have all of your friends celebrating their romance seems to be just rubbing it in.
While there is no doubt that there were multiple St. Valentines, the link to romance seems to have been a much later development (feel free to research on your own). There is certainly a case to be made that the theme of romantic love has actually hurt the commitment needed to make a marriage that lasts, but I really am not here to particularly debate the merits of celebrating romance, or romantic love. Certainly, developing your commitment to love, and celebrating that love, is a reasonable thing. Still, wouldn’t that be what anniversaries are for?
My concern is more for those who find this day to be depressing, and end up wondering what God is up to in their life. Rather than focusing on all the good in their life, they have to endure the constant reminders building up to today, and the social pressure to find a valentine, even if only to cover the pain and loneliness the day brings to mind. This encourages shallow, temporary relationships, and distracts the focus from relationship with God.
Even for those of us who are married, placing undue importance on romantic efforts on this day can distract us from the daily importance of working on our relationship. Valentines Day can become a replacement of sorts for neglecting the needs of our spouse for much of the year. It is as if we feel that we can make up for a year of taking my wife for granted could be overcome with flowers, chocolate, and a special dinner our tonight! And our culture tells us that this is ok, and maybe even how it is supposed to work. I disagree! Appreciating and celebrating our spouse and our relationship is much more important. Also, this doesn’t “rub it in” as much to our other friends.
And for those of us with a spouse, we still need to not forget our primary love relationship: our love for Christ and His for us. Our celebration of out earthly romantic love can distract our focus from our walk with our Creator. What a shame! Only our love for Christ is deserving of the kind of undivided attention we typically give to our spouse/significant other on Valentine’s Day. May we remember, every day, how great a Love we have received, and how great a debt of love we owe.
On the topic of loneliness, and its spiritual affects, here is a snippet from an interesting article about a book discussing the spiritual journey of one woman through loneliness:
It’s Friday. On Friday evenings many of us will “go out” — with a spouse, with a friend, with friends — but go out. But some will not.
Some will be alone. Some want to be alone. Some don’t.
While going out with a spouse or friends can mask it, and while those who are home alone may well be content — together or alone, many today will experience loneliness.
Perhaps it’s a downer topic for you but loneliness is a powerful experience, the power of one is what Anette Ejsing calls it in her fine, readable and theological book: The Power of One: Theological Reflections on Loneliness.
Check out the whole thing here.
I’ve also blogged about the Church and mental illness, as well as this recent post about a husband and father suffering unimaginable loss. Can’t help but remember him in prayer today. I’d ask that you do the same, and also remember your single friends who find today a painful and depressing one.