Scenario 1: Valentine’s Day. It’s a sudden build up. The Christmas decorations are wiped off the shelves, and the next day they are replaced with dozens of red hearts, cheery little lovesick bears that say, “I (heart) you,” and more candy than you can poke a stick at.
Through January it niggles at the back of your mind, and by February you are forced to step out of denial and succumb to the reality that you will not be receiving a floral card that says, “Be Mine.” So you watch all your friends and their loved ones make plans for V-Day, observe the insurmountable rom-coms suddenly appearing at a movie theater near you, and perhaps you feel a little melancholy.
This is often the perception of singleness on Valentine’s Day. And it can be a stark, lonely holiday—if we allow it to be such a thing. This brings me to scenario 2, a situation that is far healthier and happier.
Scenario 2: Valentine’s Day. We observe the festivities building up over January and February. A few friends get Valentines and it’s pretty sweet, but in the meantime we are content. We know our worth does not rest in these heart shaped chocolates or the affections of another, and we continue to put our energy into living boldly, fiercely and free, seeking to show Christ to others in our day to day actions. Occasionally we may feel a little discouraged, but Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a reminder of what we don’t have, but rather a reminder of how much we have to bring to the table and the love already present in out lives.
As a single woman, I choose to live in scenario 2.
Giving Up on Isolation
That being said, many single people often feel the most isolated on Valentine’s Day. But we learn to get past this, because really, Valentine’s Day is just a day. And when I see it as a celebration of life and love as opposed to a pity party, I can actually enjoy it. This is why I happily challenge the common perception that those of us who are single twenty or thirtysomethings, divorcees, or who might be waiting for “the one” are miserable on February 14.
So that’s why I ask you to stop pitying me on Valentine’s Day. There are many well-meaning people who try to “help me out” because often, it feels like singleness is perceived as a problem.
People remind me of how wonderful I am, how much I have to offer and tell me that any male would be lucky to have me. While I do believe all of this is true, when these words are said in the context of pity, they make me feel like I’ve failed some sort of quality of life test that demands I have a significant other.
Valentine’s Day—the day Saint Valentine solidified as a day of love and which commercial retailers everywhere have deemed the measure of true affection—is a benchmark day for pity. But when I am pitied for my singleness, it becomes easier to discredit my self-worth. When I start to feel sorry for myself, I believe that being single means I live a lesser life and that I cannot contribute as much to the Kingdom without a significant other. This is simply not true.
I don’t need another day of feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I sometimes need a little help to remember how awesome I am with or without a Valentine.
Selling Yourself Short
When I consider Valentine’s Day, I don’t get angry. I don’t pity myself, and I don’t blame the culture of the Church for placing this pressure on my shoulders. Personally, I remember that I would much rather spend this day, and a lifetime, with someone who’s worth waiting for. I don’t want to sell myself short by believing that singleness is less significant than a relationship.
Paul said it himself, “God gives the gift of singleness to some, the gift of married life to others” (1 Corinthians). And while not all of us who are single desire to stay this way forever, in the meantime it is essential we know that we have important talents and gifts that we can bring to our communities and into our relationships.
So if you are one of the lucky ones who have found their “one,” as much as you want me to experience the same kind of love and joy you possess, please don’t pity me today. Don’t feel sorry for me as I go and see a chick flick with my girlfriends, hang out with my married friends, or go about my life as normal. I’m actually OK with being single, because I know that my self-worth isn’t defined by a Valentine’s Day card.
I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day.