By: Rebbie Groesbeck //
I spent a lot of years dreading February 14th. It all began when I was a 13-year-old brace-faced girl attending Centennial Middle School.
The student council created a Valentine’s Day tradition where you could pay a dollar to anonymously send a pink Granny B’s sugar cookie to anyone at school. It became a public display of how much you were “loved,” transforming the already awkward pre-teen atmosphere into a cesspool of insecurity. I still remember when the most popular girl in school got 39 sugar cookies—hers was the number to beat.
Fast forward to High School, where my memories of Valentine’s Day are mostly a blur of awkward school dances, and then to College when I alternated between working double shifts waiting tables or going out of town so as to distract myself from what day it was. Whether I had a boyfriend or not, the day just stressed me out.
For some reason, the holiday dedicated to celebrating love has often made me feel slightly uncomfortable and more often than not, alone.
But over the years I’ve discovered that there is a secret to not spending Valentine’s Day alone. And while I might be the only one who’s experienced V-Day dread, I have a feeling some of you could benefit from hearing my secret.
It’s a simple thing you can do that will quite simply change your life:
Realize that God loves you, and love others the way he does.
I know, I know. Sounds a little pathetic. It sounds like the kind of consolation reserved for mothers to give their sweet spirited children. But it’s not, and here’s why.
One of my dearest friends from High School got married just a few years after we graduated.
While I am aware that no marriage is perfect, she has one that I think is pretty great. Over the last few years she’s watched my single life with a state of slight envy that has at times infuriated me. From time to time we re-hash the same conversation –(“you have it good!” “no YOU have it good!”) until finally one day I said to her:
“Look. It’s not that I’m unhappy. But for the last six years, you have been consistently loved. You have been told you are beautiful every day. You spend your time with someone you love and respect, who sees the best in you. You’ve enjoyed a calmness and safety that I’ve only ever experienced in fragments. It’s made you deeply confident and given you a sense of fulfillment I don’t have.”
As the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized something.
I have been consistently loved for the last 25 years.
I have been made aware of my beauty as a daughter of God who has divine worth.
I have a personal, close relationship with a being I love and respect, who understands my weaknesses but focuses on my potential.
I’ve experienced things with him that have brought me deep confidence and fulfillment.
Of course, it’s a different kind of love. My friend’s relationship with her husband is romantic while mine with God is certainly not (#awkward). But to be honest, I’m not really sure romantic love on its own can bring a deep sense of confidence or fulfillment.
My friend is lucky to have a marriage where selfless love exists. But sadly, one look at the divorce rate in this country will tell you that she is the exception not the rule.
So here’s my hunch—I think true happiness is only possible where pure love exists.
True happiness is not a product of marriage. It’s not a perk of having a Valentine. It’s the presence of pure love—of selflessly caring for others.
Surely, pure love exists when my friend plans a Valentine’s date with her husband. It also exists when I offer to be a listening ear to a friend, or when you go out of your way to help someone who needs it.
Pure love means loving each other the way God loves us.
Since I’ve realized that happiness isn’t reserved for people who have Valentines, I’ve tried to live the week surrounding February 14th with a little more pure love in my life, whether I have a Valentine or not.
I try a little harder to help people around me. I make a lot of cheesy pink and red treats. I scheme and lie to my friends so their boyfriends can surprise them with romantic gestures.
It’s shockingly more fulfilling than getting 39 pink sugar cookies.
Now, by no means am I hating on Valentine’s Day celebrations. I’m not dead inside. I just think it’s good to evaluate WHY we’re buying oversized stuffed animals or heart shaped boxes of chocolate.
So for Valentine’s Day this year, I vote for less store-bought cards and more handwritten notes. I say less doilies, more deep chats. Less fancy dinners out, more thoughtful dinners in.
More pure love, the way God loves. And more true happiness that has a chance to last.
I’m incredibly grateful for the knowledge that God loves me, and for the steadying confidence it brings to know that someone sees me for who I am at my core. Whether you are happy in love or heartbroken, live with a little more pure love in your heart this week. I promise you won’t regret it.
Happy Valentine’s, from the Normons