Ah, Valentine’s Day. You couldn’t tell by a weeks straight worth of posts about it that I love this holiday, could you? Well, just in case I need to clarify – I adore it. I always have! In elementary school, I anxiously awaited the passing out of Valentine’s in everyone’s mini mailbox. In high school, I felt on top of the world as us choir girls (I swear it was cool) hopped around to different classrooms singing ‘Valentine Grams’ for the day. In college, it was the perfect excuse to watch chick flicks and eat way too much junk food with a room full of single girlfriends. And now that I’m a married lady, I’m really looking forward to spending quality time celebrating with my husband. But hear me out – even though I do love the holiday, I haven’t always felt 100% secure with myself in it.
As a single lady, Valentine’s day can be the pits. Yes, all those things I mentioned above are super fun, but something deep down stings a little when you see those around you that do have a significant other to spend the day of love with. Single ladies – sound familiar? I promise, I get it. I was there just 2 years ago. Somehow the Valentine from your mom still feels so sweet (thanks, mom!), but something in your head likes to tell you that it would be even better if there was a handsome man in your life giving you one as well. That sense of dreaming of “even better” turns into a deep longing for something to make us feel complete and whole. Something we often think a romantic relationship will fulfill.
And then there comes the Valentine’s Day that perhaps you do have a knight and shining armor. You do have the joy of a “guaranteed date”. You finally get to experience what the Hallmark cards have been talking about. Hopefully, boyfriends evolve to fiancés and then a marriage which we then think we’ve finally found our “Forever Valentine”.
There it is. That term. I’ve seen it pop up a lot lately. I started to see it a lot over the summer. A lot of women – happy, beautiful, dedicated, devoted and in love women – post pictures to social media at weddings marking captions like “at so and so’s wedding with my forever wedding date”. And then wedding season ended and that term shifted from weddings to forever Christmas dinner dates to now onto Valentines. I know it’s all out of love and admiration for the ones they love and have committed the rest of their lives to. Which is without a doubt a beautiful, wonderful thing. But guess what? I have a problem with the term “Forever _____.”
I just typed into good old Google to get the definition of “forever”. For all future time; for always; continually; lasting or permanent. Yikes. That’s a big commitment of a description. And please hear me – I don’t want this post to sound overtly cynical. But (there’s always a but!)… who said it was ok to mark our relationships on this earth as forever? Because really, they’re not.
We hope relationships of this earth are lasting. Life-long. We strive to find “the one” and call it “forever”. That grow old together kinda love. That fulfillment of being whole once we’ve found it scenario I was mentioning prior. And trust me – I believed this deep down when I was single. I believed that getting married would make me feel like a whole person. That the notion of my “other half” would someday come into my life and then make me feel complete. And now that I’m married? I can absolutely say that my husband is my best friend. I love him deep down to my soul. He compliments me so well and loves me better than any man I could have ever hoped or dreamed for. But the truth is, he does not make me whole.
And gosh, how could he?! Newsflash: he’s a human. A flawed, sinful, imperfect human. So am I. Geez, sometimes a whole lot more than he is, I think. But yes, even though he’s the most loving man I’ve ever met, sometimes he fails me. Sometimes he let’s me down. Just like someday…. his body will let him down. Oh yes, we’re going there. True fact: someday my husband is going to leave this earth. His body won’t last forever! It’s impossible. Whether it’s from a scenario we never want to envision or simply from old age – someday, my husband will die.
Oh man. Is that not the most awful thing to write and put on the internet for everyone to see? On Valentines weekend for heavens sake?! Who am I?? That statement is THE WORST. I hate thinking about it. Loathe. But guess what? 5 months ago, I had to watch my best friend face the reality of that statement. A reality she never, ever wanted to face. Not this year, not in 80 years. But she had to. And it was and continues to be the most heart breaking thing I’ve ever had to witness.
My best friend’s Forever Valentine wasn’t actually forever on this earth. Everything in her being wanted her husband to be with her until they were old and wrinkly in rocking chairs. She wanted nothing more than to call him her forever for the rest of her life. But, it didn’t work out that way. She, and those closest to her, had to realize that there’s no such thing as forever on this earth. And the only promise of forever that we’re actually given is this thing called: eternal life.
Yep, we’re going there too. There isn’t a faith tab up top on this site without purpose, now is there! Eternity. The truest form of forever. The promise that when when our bodies do fail us and we do in fact die, it’s not the end. That forever exists in the sense that we’re forever loved by a God that let his own son’s earthly body die, and resurrect it again so that we too, could experience life for eternity in Heaven. It’s the craziest, most insane thing to wrap our brains around. And I believe it’s true with my whole heart.
It’s a belief in a promise that brings me more hope than I could have ever fathomed after seeing my best friend and sister lose her husband that she so wanted to (we ALL wanted to) hold onto for forever. It’s the same truth I see in knowing that my husband doesn’t fulfill my soul in the way Jesus can. It’s ultimately what makes me realize that this idea of a Forever (blank) is false, and it’s what makes me want to encourage you to think of it in the same sense.
With that, I’m going to challenge you to walk into this Valentine’s Day with a heart full of hope. Hope in something much greater than flowers, chocolate, a hot date out, physical intimacy, and feeling whole with the dependence of another human being. I’m going to encourage you to think beyond the terms of what you want to last forever in your own life. In your family, your friendships, and your relationships. Whether you’re content in singleness or painfully longing for a partner in this life. Blissfully in love, struggling through the fight, or deeply grieving loss physically or emotionally – all within the context of marriage.
There is hope in something as silly and fun as Valentine’s Day and there is hope in so much more. So take heart, dear readers. Remember this: through this hope also comes the greatest love you will ever know. It’s found in Jesus. The only way to experience that deep rooted love of feeling accepted, complete and whole. A love that does not come from self-love, self-acceptance or love from another human. And my word, how beautiful that we get to be called into that love with the terms of exactly just how we are: sinful, flawed, messes. Nothing more and nothing less.
May you read this and let it marinate. Let it resonate. Hit tough spots. Strike nerves. I’m ok with that. God is, too. And if you have questions about anything I’m sharing, please always reach out and email me. email@example.com
You are loved, dear one.
Happy Valentine’s Day!