Valentine’s Day Post

I strongly dislike Valentine’s Day.

I have always viewed it as a day for single people to feel lonely, lonely people to feel more lonely, and people in relationships to feel undue pressure to perform.  Yeah, not my favorite holiday.

But I might be slightly bitter…an issue which I have been wrestling with recently: my bitterness against romance.

It didn’t start that way.  I remember when I first fasted romance movies.  My heart was so pure in intention.  The man I loved had ended our relationship, and I realized I needed God’s view of romance.  So I fasted the movies.  I read a little book called When God Writes Your Love Story and handed the pen over for God to compose.  I remember reading when Leslie Ludy says God is writing a story for each of us and it will happen soon, and thinking to myself, “Soon isn’t a fair word.  This is going to take a long time.”

At first the theory was that it was taking so long because I wasn’t ready.  Then, my contemporaries theorized, perhaps he is not ready (whoever he is).  I was recently running on the beach, lamenting to God how few people understand how pervasive the loneliness can be, when it occurred to me that *I* understand.  I have been given the gift of longsuffering in this area, and so I have an intuitive sense of the loneliness of others, how it dogs your every step.  What if the waiting wasn’t about me, wasn’t about him, but was about learning how to love people in their loneliness.

God cares a lot about the lonely.  The widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, the poor.  These are the four populations He mentions over and over in the Bible as those to whom we should show care.  The lonely, the lonely, the lonely, the poor.  “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt,”  Exodus 22:21.

Remember the lonely, Beth, because you too have known loneliness.

These days God has been confronting the bitterness that cropped up over the last nine years since I “handed Him the pen,” which includes bringing that book across my path again.  It’s been sitting around the student’s house for weeks now, haunting me.  I finally picked it up and reread Leslie’s introduction.  Soon.  So unfair of her to use that word…but I knew.  Nine years ago, I knew this wasn’t going to be my version of soon.  I’m pretty sure I’ve taken back the pen on more than one occasion.  God has not been silent for the last nine years, either, but working with me through every trial, holding my heart through every loss, teaching me to hope again…and again…and again.  Still I’ve become bitter.

Today God has helped me keep the taste of bile out of my mouth.  I got to play violin with the Santa Maria Mission’s Base Prayer Room.  I got to deliver valentines to women at the strip club.  I got to have friends in my home and got to know them better.  Out of no where, my friend began encouraging me that this part of my life is not on back burner, that God cares and is working on my behalf.

It is good to lead such a full, rich life.  I still have my moments of loneliness, but I am surrounded by community.  Here I am, at the end of another day, with a debt of gratitude to everyone who has walked with me through the lonely days, who has loved me back to life through brokenness and pain, who has fought for me instead of with me, and who has welcomed me home.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. psalm27sjb
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 01:29:09

    Well-spoken, my friend. This was actually the first Valentine’s Day since I was 9 that I enjoyed. I was overcome with love for Jesus in the early morning hours (evidence on my Facebook page…hahaha!), and it stayed with me all day long. Truly in love with Him…and trusting His timing for my Boaz. =)

    Reply

  2. Karen Vanoster
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 04:40:11

    Beautiful post, dear Beth, and my heart hears and knows every word.

    Reply

  3. Johan
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 05:11:15

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for your thoughts on Valentine’s day.
    Your feelings and thoughts around this day and being lonely are all too recongnizable.
    I also struggle with a bitterness towards romance, and a loss of hope that’s haunting my steps. Even though I have more hope now than I have had in well … forever, the thought haunts me that I’m fooling myself. I all too easily let my confidence, image of self and well, happiness, depend on this outward circumstance of being single or my ability to woo or pursue a woman.
    One thing I’ve been conscious of these past days, is that ultimately my confidence and worth is not in me having a relationship or having the confidence of pursueing a woman. I have to give those up as sources of life. I cast my hope on being loved by God and the knowledge that even if I don’t feel it, I’m worthwhile, because of Him. And in that naked trust I look around at life as it is, and decide to be there, to be present to my friends, to colleagues, to people I meet. To ascribe worth to them (which is to love them) as God has ascribed worth to me.
    To my thinking in the end love is what gives us meaning. Us being loved by God – and us loving others as He has loved us. All the other outward things will once lose their value. We entered into this world naked, we will leave it just as naked – we can’t take those things with us. What remains (see 1 Korinthians 13) is love.
    Mind you, this is easier written down, than practiced. But I remind myself of this almost daily.
    I don’t have received words from God about me finding someone or being in a relationship, that I can rest my confidence in. But other people have hope for me. I find that encouraging. What rests for me is to trust that whatever happens, whether I find someone or no, God is in control.

    JOhan

    Reply

  4. mary
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 12:08:43

    Again, beautifully articulated. Your heart is exercised and open. The photo of you with arms wide, embracing the wind is one of my favorites. It brings to mind a Charles Swindoll statement, “Roots grow deep where winds are strong.” You spoke once of your desert season, now you experience the winds of this season. Swindoll concludes his thought with, “Deeper roots make for stronger lives.” Know that loneliness does not belong to singles only, and even in that God has a plan and is in control. I marvel at his work and delight watching his plan unfold. ‘Delight’ is as cautioned an expression as ‘soon.’ Watching, waiting, and wearing are, as Johan says, ‘easier written down, than practiced.’ Hind sight is not easier or better than fore sight, just different. As jumping for joy is good exercise, so weeping for joy is good for clearing vision. I’m counting that the view from the front side of the Master’s tapestry is ‘different’ too.
    Mother’s Day is the inflated, artificial day I resent. Maybe your candidness about Valentine’s Day will help me confront my emotions in May.

    Reply

  5. Janet
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 14:23:46

    Thanks, Beth. I understand it, too. ❤
    Honestly, this Valentine's Day was the first in a long while that passed without a twinge of loneliness on my part. We had community group last night…just like any other Monday night, so I spent the evening surrounded by friends. And for once, it didn't cross my mind that I was the only single person there (aside from our hosts 19 year-old daughter).
    It's not as though I'm not lonely anymore, because I get very, very lonely. Just, not yesterday. I'm not sure what changed. In the past, I've really struggled with it.

    Mary, I hear you. That day in May is very, very difficult for me. It always has been difficult, but in the last few years, it's gotten a lot harder.

    Reply

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