I don’t necessarily hate Valentine’s Day in and of itself; I have more hatred for how it’s treated. For many, today’s a day to spend with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. But for the singles like me, there is a lot of pressure from certain societal messages. I remember in high school (and middle school) we had this Valentine’s Day cookie thing where you’d order a cookie for your crush in advance and they’d receive it on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it could have been my misunderstanding of the concept, but I feel that I was led to believe if I got the girl I like a cookie, she’d like me and we’d start dating.
I find similar pressures today. Earlier today I went to Safeway to pick up some coffee creamer (because I can’t drink coffee straight, yet) and nearly on every aisle was a small stand offering up Valentine’s Day gifts to give to “that special someone.” What isn’t really clarified is who that special someone is; a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or – in my case – a potential girlfriend? With all the hype of Valentine’s Day, single people like me are led to believe that this is the day we’re supposed to express our secret affection for a particular person. We’re fed this hopeless romantic fantasy that we’ll be with that person if and only if we give that person these roses, heart-shaped candies, and chocolates. It’s only when our efforts fail that we realize we’ve been lied to.
Again, I’m not going to sit here and say that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be celebrated even amongst the singles. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be believed to be a day wherein one’s single days are over and that they’ll find the love of their life because they were brave enough to buy flowers and candy (when they were on sale). It’s a big fat lie that plays in to our hopeless-romantic fantasies.
As a follower of Jesus, I realize there is a great amount of potential danger involved with expressing one’s feelings to another. For example, let’s say I really liked this girl named Shaniqua. I don’t know anyone named Shaniqua, so it’s a fitting name for a hypothetical person. Let’s say Shaniqua is beautiful and I can’t stop thinking about being with her. So, buying into the lie of Valentine’s Day (that if I express my affection on this day, she’ll be with me), I make a card, buy some roses and set up a delivery plan that will make it impossible for her not to fall in love with me. Finally, let’s say Shaniqua is a Christian sister who is a part of the same fellowship that I am, which is – in this scenario – a very small church.
I make the card, get the roses, and make sure everything is going according to plan. She’ll be arriving home from work soon and let’s say one of her roommates let me in and is going along with my plan because she thinks we’d be cute together. There I am, sitting on the couch with a card and roses in hand and suddenly we hear keys jingling at the door – Shaniqua’s home. It squeaks open, Shaniqua’s high-heels echo down the hall, and then… some guy’s boots follow afterward.
“Oh, hey Jeremy, this is my new boyfriend Bill.”
Yes, it’s a dumb little scenario, but you see my point; when we place so much hope into one day with all the false – albeit implicit – promises, we set ourselves up for a great amount of emotional damage. And since it’s a smaller church, the next Sunday would be awkward between me, Shaniqua, Shaniqua’s roommate, and Bill – not because they damaged me in so many ways, but because I damaged myself by believing in the hopeless-romantic promises of Valentine’s Day.
In regards to the real Saint Valentine, he was a man who stood up for the institution of marriage and should therefore be remembered amongst the married (or marrying) couples. But for singles, Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, but in a different fashion. Maybe get a group of singles together and go watch a movie (I think my roommates are, but I can’t join them because of homework. I know, bummer). Or maybe play board games or something, I don’t know. But what I don’t think we single people should do, though, is buy roses for “that special someone” thinking that it’ll end our single lives. It might, but it’s unlikely. She might actually like Valentine’s Day and she might actually be somewhat hopeful that you’ll show you like her on this specific day. In my experience it won’t work, but it could be different in yours. Keep in mind, though, you might be putting that friendship at risk if she’s not looking for anyone’s expression of affection.
I’m mainly writing with inspiration from Proverbs 4:23; “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” We can guard our own hearts by not placing our hopes in our hopeless-romantic fantasies – such fantasies that the societal pressures on Valentine’s Day encourage. It’s for our own good that we keep a clear head about what’s inspiration from God and what’s inspiration from societal or worldly pressures. Honestly, I think if you want a girl to really like you, you ought to make a greater commitment of being her friend – by guarding her heart as well as your own – before you try to be her boyfriend.
But what do I know? After all I’m still single…:)
P.S. This is a video from my friend Jesiah Dzwonek that I thought was awesome: