“…I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord.” 1 Sam 1:15
I’m pretty sure the only people who hop up and down about Valentine’s Day are the newly infatuated. Married couples seem generally annoyed by the pressure to participate in some way and those without significant others are reminded they have no one to participate with. This is why I happily head to the Amazon Jungle the week of Valentine’s Day.
Actually I’m not this cynical—truly. It just so happens that every year Justice & Mercy International’s Jungle Pastor’s Conference happens over February 14th. Still I’ve found that no matter how deep into the jungle you go, the one thing you can never escape is a date on the calendar. So… for anyone whose loneliness or longing is elicited by this particular holiday, here are a few things that have helped me along the way.
Acknowledge The Longing
We’re really good at invalidating whatever we don’t have—if we’re without a soulmate on Valentine’s Day we can’t just let the day be in all our pleasantness. No, we have to talk about how ridiculous of a day it is, how it’s made-up for the sake of commercialism, how if we had someone to share it with we’d boycott the fancy dinner. But that doesn’t change anything about our longing for a significant other. It only redirects that longing toward denial and maybe a teensy bit of self-righteousness.
What if we did something different this year? If Valentine’s Day churns up sadness or loneliness or even a hint of anger in your heart because you still haven’t met the love of your life, or because you found him and lost him, or because you have someone you feel positively stuck with, instead of spending all of February 14th invalidating the holiday, what if you acknowledged your longing and laid it before Jesus?
Don’t let me lose you here. I’m being so serious.
I think of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:15 who poured out her heart to the Lord over the grief of not being able to bear a child. What if you poured your heart out to Christ this year instead of letting cynicism rule the day? What if you told Him all about your loneliness and your deep desire for someone to have as your own? What if you let that ache hang out there for a bit and let Him tend to it?
Press into Your Community
When we’re sad or lonely we tend to isolate. This is where our church community is essential, both married and unmarried members. I’m so grateful for my married friends because as a single woman I need the validation of both husbands and wives. Their affirmations are different and how they see and value me is important to me as a woman.
I’ve had older married women tell me over the years how they’re praying for a husband for me or that they don’t understand why someone hasn’t “snatched me right up.” Anyone? But when I hear something similar from a godly man his words have a different affect on me. I need both male and female reflections in my life.
There’s no formula for how this looks, but what I’ve needed in addition to my single friends is a community of married friends, both with and without kids. Having men and women and children around me in varying stages and seasons of life helps me know who I am and that I’m not alone. In very real and tangible ways the local church has been this to me, but only if I choose to press in on the days I don’t feel like it.
Push Outside Yourself
The message of the day is to shower with love and adoration the person who makes you happy, the one who completes and fulfills you. But the love of Christ compels us to love others even when they’re not making us happy, when Cupid’s not shooting arrows all over our relationships. One of the gifts of being at the Pastor’s Conference over Valentine’s Day is the opportunity to serve others. This is not my basic nature I assure you. But when I let the Lord lead me into meeting the needs of others I find it to be a soothing heat to the coolness of my self-pitying. He’s surprised me in the most shocking of ways—off the top of my head: spending Valentine’s Day in the Amazon jungle and loving every minute of it.
Dear friends, this isn’t a cheerleader post on how to love Valentine’s Day as a single woman. Our longings are infinitely deeper than that. Which is why I hope you will pay attention to them this week. I along with you want to acknowledge the voids in my heart and put them before the Lord. Because He knows; And don’t forget for a moment He cares. I hope we’ll reach out to the local body of Christ, very much including our married friends, which will keep us from becoming cynical or cold to the beauty of marriage. And always I hope we’ll remember that true love is not found in someone completing us and making us happy every second of the day, but in giving our lives away.
If you’re still looking for something a little more tangible, I’d recommend escaping to the Amazon.