For me, Valentine’s Day has always felt like that awkward holiday in which you aren’t sure you want to participate, let alone celebrate. In high school, the day was surrounded by a weird duality of angst and anticipation…would that special someone step out and support the sophomore class to buy a specific colored chrysanthemum signifying merely friendship, or, maybe, even be bold to choose the one that signifies “I like you”? Years later, even through college, February 14th seemed to be the one day of the year where, as a young woman, I straddled the fulcrum, one part of me teetering on emotions of immense disappointment while immensely hoping for the joy of feeling safe and secure in a current relationship.
No offense to my husband, but during our younger years, it took us awhile to get on the same page about this holiday…and maybe a few other things…like, actually dating. Looking back, Valentine’s Day carries a lot of hurt about my expectations versus my reality. And, because of those feelings, I believe it has changed how I see the holiday now.
My sensitive side is especially heightened this time of year. I always have a conundrum about posting happy marriage pictures, as I have friends struggling with their relationships. It’s like announcing your pregnancy when you know your dearest loved one deals with infertility. I don’t want to toss my joy around inconsiderately when there is so much pain and hurt in the world.
But, bottom line, Valentine’s Day is about love. It’s about those around you. Your marital status doesn’t define your happiness. You know what does?
Black socks and toilet paper rolls.
My dad died of a brain tumor when I was twelve. Certainly, I know how this impacted my world and even how this loss has carried into my adult life. Looking back, it is apparent that the early years of our marriage were rooted in my fear of losing Brad. He was late getting home? Certainly that meant he was dead in a ditch somewhere. Forgot to call? He was insensitive and uncaring of my insecurities. For a young married couple, these little issues stretched deep and wide and probably permeated areas more than I care to remember.
Finally, one night after another round of tears and misunderstandings, Brad boldly shared, “I can never be everything to you. I can’t fulfill all your needs and ease your fears. I will fail every single time because I am not perfect. You need to lean on God for filling those holes and healing those wounds.”
Our relationship improved, because my focus cleared. Instead of looking at all the negative things I felt Brad was doing, I asked the Lord to change me, to fill me, to ease my fears of being left alone as a young mom. I leaned in to Jesus, deepening my faith through His Word and prayer. My attitude became one filtered through the lens of gratefulness which changed my life and strengthened our marriage.
For my mom, it was black socks. My dad, being a pastor, would often come home and change clothes, and leave his black socks on the floor beside their bed. Years after his death, I remember my mom saying how, if life were different, she would not complain about picking up his black socks, but instead be grateful she had the chance to do it.
For me, it’s the toilet paper roll. It’s a choice, each and every time I see it empty. I can lament that Brad or my kids forgot to change it out. I can wave it around in their faces, or pout at the injustice of always having the responsibility fall on me. Or, I can choose thankfulness that I can serve them in that way and be grateful each and every day that we can share life together, empty toilet paper rolls and all.
So, this year, whether you will be spending Valentine’s Day with a spouse, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or will be passing the time alone, my encouragement for you is to not let your day be defined by your circumstances. Let your heart be filled up by the living God, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can choose to love well the people around you, whoever they are. With Him at the central core of who you are, you can wait on his timing, and revel in his love. By no means is it easy, and, truthfully, it may still even be a bit lonely. But, when He fills you to your very soul and you lean in to Him, He can help you see the smallest glimmer of good in even the saddest of situations. Trust in that promise today because He delivers. I’m living proof. Personally, I think that may be the best Valentine’s Day gift of all.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the
righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:17-19
Be thankful for what you have, because each day is a precious gift when surrounded by those we love. Don’t waste it. Single, married, divorced, widowed, young, old…choose gratitude, and choose Him first.
Challenging you to join me in changing the toilet paper roll –
Blessed to be His,
PS. If you feel so inclined, would you leave me a note on my Facebook page or in the comments section on what your “toilet paper roll” commitment is? What will you choose to be grateful about rather than see it as a chore? What is your labor of love and thankfulness for those around you?