If you choose to take leave of your senses, you can go wander the aisles of Hallmark with packs of stressed out men, trying to make sure they stay out of the dog house tomorrow. You could also go stand in line at jewelry stores or the florist shop. Heck, I was in Kroger last night and could feel the tension in the men sorting through picked over boxes of chocolates! It’s Feb 13, and the pressure is on.
When my beloved and I first got married our Valentine’s Days went a lot like this:
Feb 10, began wondering if he would surprise me with some grand romantic gesture, then decided he probably hadn’t even thought of Valentine’s Day yet and felt immediately disappointed
Feb 11, began plotting a back up plan so we would, in fact, be able to celebrate since I was sure he was not going to plan ahead or even care about trying to show me how special I was to him
Feb 12, tear up thinking about how unloved and unspecial I felt in our relationship, brush aside those feelings as ridiculous and think maybe he really would surprise me with something wonderful and of course post-worthy and all would be well
Feb 13, in a moment of deep angst, ask him if he had even thought ahead to plan a date night for us or was I going to have to figure out the babysitting AND the plan for the evening. Watch look of panic cross husbands face to be replaced with defensive tone as he commented, “Why are you mad already? It’s not even Valentine’s yet?” Feel vindicated that I WAS right, he hadn’t planned ahead, and decide I was indeed, not going to feel special
Feb 14, hide disappointment and put on a good martyr face while handing out Valentine’s cards to my kids AND my husband first ting in the morning, because after all, I really value treating people as special and loved, even if no one treats me that way. Attend class parties for kids. Listen to women talk about roses and dinner plans. Pout inwardly and feel sorry for myself. Receive text from husband saying we will be going on a date that evening. Be annoyed that he always waits till the last minute and doesn’t ever do anything really romantic. Pick up children from school, get home, be secretly disappointed again that there are no roses waiting for me on the counter. Get ready for date night. Pray to have a better attitude. Go on date night. Feel a little better, but still disappointed, but unsure how to handle the feeling so paint a big smile and decide that real life and real marriage is just going to be a let down and be thankful for the day to be over.
(Since my husband is, in fact, not my version of crazy, he usually spent Feb 10, 11, 12 & 13 living normal life like a person not obsessed with being made to feel special.)
Then one day, in some place deep inside me, I let it all go. Let go of my hidden, unreachable, unrealistic expectations. Let go of making my husband responsible for my knowing I had value and worth. Let go of comparing myself to movie characters and carpool moms and women at large who seemed to be more romanced than I. Let go of needing some yearly proof of love from a man who showed up to love me the other 364 days in real ways like faithfulness, patience, encouragement, provision and serving me. It was the most liberating freeing moment when I let it go. For me AND my husband.
Do you know what got me there? I started looking at a different holiday to find the proof of love I needed. To find my wildest dreams met, my most unrealistic expectations fulfilled. Just a few months after Valentine’s Day, is Passover. Then Good Friday. Then Easter. Everything I ever needed to know, every grand romantic gesture my heart longed for, every rescued damsel in distress love story is summed up in that one horrible beautiful weekend. My heart was made to love and be loved. The greatest love story of all time is found in the gospel. Jesus made himself nothing so I could have the something I needed. Grace, mercy, rescue, love. The greatest symbol of love is not a heart or flowers or candy, but a bloody cross and an empty grave. When my heart finally settled into the love of my Savior, my Valentine’s woes vanished. I still give my family cards, and my husband still dates me and I love chocolate, but my need to know I matter is no longer weighed by what I receive on Feb 14th.