Its Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Whether you celebrate it with as much gusto as a bin of oversized teddy bears at Wal-Mart, hide in your room with a box of chocolates and You’ve Got Mail, or ask people the date every chance you get to prove that you really aren’t paying attention to the fact that its February 14th and you don’t have a date, these thoughts are for you….
I got married when I was 29 and until I dated my husband at age 28 I never had a valentine.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to date or get married or have romance…in fact I think the idea of Valentines’- admittedly an over commercialized holiday – is beautiful, fun and I am the
sucker person who will buy notepads, socks and all forms of paraphernalia because it is speckled with red and pink hearts and trimmed with a little bit of lace.
I never wanted to be that pouty girl who sat around on valentines day feeling sorry for her lack of valentines. I bought flowers and treats for friends and family, and tried to use it as a day to encourage people I loved – and of course as an excuse to have 1, 2 or 10 of those amazing lofthouse sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles.
In spite of my attempts to have a good attitude and enjoy the holiday – it stung just a little every year.
I could probably sum up my single years by simply saying: In spite of all my attempts to have a good attitude and just enjoy it, it hurt a little bit….and then a little more – and than it started to hurt A LOT.
By the time I was 26 I had read every book about singleness, dating, or not dating, and finding your spouse that was on the Christian market. I had read blog articles and magazine article geared toward singles and sometimes they were helpful, even encouraging.
Something snapped when I hit about 26 years old – maybe it was being a bridesmaid round 7…maybe it was one too many games of toilet paper bride…but every article and book on the subject of singleness made me angry and left me feeling completely misunderstood.
I felt like every article I read was some formulaic prescription of:
– If you love and follow Jesus you will get married
– While you’re single, enjoy the freedom of singleness (marriage will be difficult!)
– Use this time to serve, get your education, pursue your passions, gain new friendships and advance in your career. If you do these things you’ll barely have time to think about your singleness. (Whoever thinks this, is not a woman…because during my single years I did “everything” I was “supposed” to do to forget about my singleness…and yet I still managed to remember I was single while I received my undergrad and masters degree, served in my community and church, worked a full time job and made it to my favorite work out classes.)
None of these things I did were bad. I am glad I used the extra energy and time I had a single person to go to college, build friendships and serve others. However it never dampened or eased my longing to be married.
I was reading through some old journals in preparation to write this article – because the last thing I want to do is forget: singleness can hurt and the longing for marriage can feel like a raw and empty ache that taunts you through the night and wakes you in the morning.
Often there is not a simple answer for the “whys” or a formula to follow for results.
One journal entry I told about an awkward social situation where I wanted to be recognized, spoken to, and I felt completely ignored by several guys who were my friends. That day I was feeling especially sad and insecure about my singleness and their social slight left me feeling unattractive and unimportant.
As I journaled about the event the next day this was what God said to me:
“ When I think of you last night – I think of how beautiful you were. I think of a beautiful woman and a precious girl. I think of how badly I just wanted to hold you. I think of how proud I am of you for just showing up. And I want you to know I see every tear and I have counted it.”
I teared up reading this tender entry today because I remembered the pain and frustration I was feeling but more so because I saw the words spoken to me were those of a tender lover.
Experiencing Jesus as a tender lover was the only way my soul experienced relief, comfort and hope during the years of singleness.
Somewhere between bridesmaid dress #6 and #7 I asked this question: Jesus can you really be a lover, as physical and tangible and real as a real life boyfriend, fiancée or husband?
Then it started: the year of free coffee.
I love coffee, and I love free stuff – so receiving free coffee is one of the best ways to win my heart.
I got free drink coupons from starbucks at least every other week in the mail. My roommates never got these and I don’t get them anymore. I would get email coupons for free coffee, people would bring me coffee to my office and I would walk into my local starbucks and be handed free drinks by the management on a consistent basis.
One day enjoying my grande pumpkin spice latte with whip – I heard Him whisper…”Enjoy your latte… it’s from me because I love you.”
I relished my free coffee like a love note. I was being wooed by the Creator of the Universe with lots of caffeine, sugar and a beautiful swirl of foam.
My suspicions were confirmed that the giver of my fancy coffee was Jesus, when I started dating my husband and my free drinks stopped.
No more coupons in the mail, no more free lattes shoved in my face when I walked into Starbucks. Now I pay for over priced shots and syrup just like everyone else.
But whenever I do buy a special drink I always smile remembering my lover, Jesus, who met me in a sweet and secret way when I felt the most discouraged and overlooked.
If you find yourself tomorrow feeling unknown and unlovely – ask Him to show up in a wondrously surprising way….He is waiting for you.
“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” Song of Songs 2:16
You are loved and I am praying for you!