Well it’s that time again…V-Day. Every year it catches me off guard. I know there are many singles who dread the approaching holiday year after year and it’s on their radar as early as January. There are many who cringe at the various business advertisements pushing their product of flowers, candy, and the standard teddy bear. Just today I received an email from Redbox with a special valentine’s day code for a free movie…never one to pass up a good deal I may just use it! Surprisingly, The best V-Days I experienced were actually while I was single (Hmmm, I wonder what that says about the quality of my past relationships?). One year, some male friends of mine, unexpectedly delivered a single red rose to each one of me and my girlfriends. Another year I was blessed to get a phone call from my dad whom I had just reconciled with after several years of being estranged. He called because he was concerned about me being alone on V-Day (very thoughtful). That same year my roommates surprised me with some really cute gifts.
A very memorable Valentines was when a few years ago I found myself snowed in at one of my friend’s houses with 4 or 5 other single women. We laughed, dialogued and ministered to one another. I was a hard-core grad student then and I really needed to study, so as much as I appreciated the fellowship with friends, I was trying to bounce and get some work done. But the emergency break was stuck in my car and there was no way I could move my Honda Civic off my friend’s ridiculously steep driveway that it was sitting on top of. So I ended up staying…and being refreshed. I missed church that day but God had other plans on edifying me. He used those women to give me the friendship and acceptance I had so eagerly desired as a child. After a few hours when we decided to head out for dinner, and I had given up all hope of practicing journal entries (shout out to all the Accountants out there) the emergency break on my car mysteriously released and I was good to go (Coincidence? I think not!).
I tried Pad Thai that night for the first time and I’ve been hooked ever since. We bought matching journals at Target and saw a well known actor on a hit tv show in the check out line. (how often does that happen in Cleveland, Ohio??) No doubt, God was spoiling us.
Even when I was in a relationship I was never a big Valentine’s Day girl. The man-made holiday didn’t phase me one way or the other. That being said, I will admit, there have been some uncomfortable, even painful times of this going on 8 years of singleness. Like seeing my coworker get a dozen red roses delivered at work from her hubby for Valentines. Now in fairness, he’s such a great guy he doesn’t just do this on V-day, he does it any day for any reason. She has them on top of her cube as we speak 🙂 Or when I find out my friend is expecting her third child and I can only hope that one day I’ll have a kid of my own. Or, when I find out women I’ve mentored, who are much younger than I, now have their own families to mentor and take care of. I could go on and on about the painful, embarrassing and challenging moments in singleness….BUT…
What I am learning is that each person has their own gift.
1Corinthians 7:7 “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that”.
In this passage Paul is referring to relationship status. He prefers singleness, as that is the state he was called to be in while living his life on earth. He understood it to be a gift because of his calling and the work he was doing for the Lord. As I mature I see the gifts in singleness and I’m learning how different the gifts are in singleness than they are in marriage. So different in fact that you simply can not compare the two.
2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise”.
That is the state I found myself in at the age of 25, when my best friend was getting married. I was not wise. I was consumed with jealousy, frustration and anger and… did I say jealousy? I viewed marriage (and still struggle with this) as being the BETTER gift. As I mature, I see that the challenges in marriage require the same character and maturity that Christ is pruning in me during this time (if not more).
So often singles see the gifts in marriage and because the gifts in marriage are not offered in singleness (romance, cuddling, sex, companionship… did I say sex?), singles will idolize those gifts and exalt them. All of their focus will be on the gifts and they will be oblivious to the DAILY WORK and CHALLENGES required for such a covenant. And of course American culture only aids and abets the idolatry. While there are many a holiday to celebrate married folks, I can’t think of one for singles (do birthdays count?). It takes grace and strength to rise up and look above the temporary, natural state of this world and see eternally (Ephesians 2:6). Only our marriage to Christ is eternal.
The narrow way that Christ spoke of is never easy whether single or married. I was just telling a friend last night that I feel like the last several years I have been fasting. Fasting from desires, dreams and ambitions. Laying down my will for His. He has been faithful in leading me on this journey of surrender. He has not asked me to give Him everything all at once. And yet He has still asked.
Tomorrow will be a pretty normal day for me I’m sure. I’ll go to work, answer the phone, send emails, and talk to Jesus. Afterwards I’ll workout and enjoy the company of a good friend. My roommate will be there when I get home and hopefully I’ll get to partake of the leftovers she’ll have after cooking dinner for her dad (her valentine). I’m sure it will be fun one day to celebrate having a valentine, receive a dozen red roses and post a pic about them on Facebook… but I desire even more to have the character and maturity required to walk out a lasting covenant with my husband. If God wants to use time to cultivate these qualities in me, I now understand it is wisdom to rest in the grace He’s provided for me to be single tomorrow. On Valentine’s Day.
Matthew 6:19-20: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.