how to survive valentine's day

I have a confession to make. I'm not a flowers type of girl. I always appreciate when my husband, Delwin, brings me a beautiful bouquet home "just because," but four days later they're wilted and worthy of nothing but a lovely plastic Glad bag in a bucket under the kitchen sink.

I definitely prefer chocolate. And not just on Valentine's day, but any day. Chocolate milk, chocolate-covered pomegranate berries, chocolate Thin Mints, chocolate anything. So imagine my delight when Delwin delighted not just my taste buds - oh no! - but my waistline, as well, with the perfect compromise between health and happiness: chocolate-covered strawberries.

All was going well. I took the Facebook pic, I shared a few with my co-workers, I had one, then another, then took a pause to write some e-mails and make some phone calls, then had another, then worked on my schedule for the next week, then another, then another and then BAM! One left. The damage? I'd eaten eleven strawberries, no problem. I gasped, audibly, then realized:

Valentine's Day is just like this, isn't it?

For some people, Group A, it's delightfully blissful, filled with promising hopes of a blossoming romance, complete with the Jewel-Osco-bought teddy bear/chocolate and flowers combo with a side of Hallmark penmanship. It's like how I felt as a wife on her first Valentine's day receiving a thoughtful gesture from her loved one, taking in the beauty of an Edible Arrangement and enjoying each bite bit-by-bit as I un-arranged the chocolatey goodness. It's warm fuzzies, and "I love you"s and hugs and kisses and puppies. It's just flippin' great.

For others, Group B, it's just the Devil himself. It's pointless, over-emphasized, and painful, either legitimately due to some insensitive ex-boy/girlfriend or just the realization of, "Yes, once again, I'm alone this year." Maybe you just think Valentine's Day is plain stupid. Either way, it's not fun or cute. And you secretly wish that your friends and co-workers (like me!) would stop posting pictures and tagged statuses of how "in love" they feel. Fair enough and more power to you. I've definitely been there.

And I'm kind of - metaphorically speaking - feeling the effects of "too much Valentine's Day" as I ponder how I'm going to get over this chocolate tummy ache I'm experiencing, quickly enough to make it through my next meeting.

No matter whether you love today or hate today or fall somewhere in-between, your experience is real, and it's ok to navigate the rest of the day and the weekend as you see fit: grab a blankey and a good book, some girlfriends, some dudes, some tissues, a dinner reservation for two. But what I really hope in is that, in the midst of our reality, we take the opportunity to be reminded of our limits in love. I think that no matter how hard we try - to love or to be loved - it will never be enough. And that's not said to discourage you, it's said to take the pressure off. It's said to help you survive Valentine's Day.

Our ministry is reading through the book of 1 John right now and this week, in 1 John 4, my friends and I on the Student Impact staff were reminded that:

"We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them . . . Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear." 
- 1 John 4: 16, 18a

Our love - our ability to give it or to receive it - will never be perfect. And in that vein, it will never be enough. Ask any committed couple out there. But the answer - on Valentine's Day and every day - isn't to "try harder." It's to recognize and be ok with the fact that, sometimes, you're going to pick the perfect gift and she's going to love the strawberries. It'll be so great. And sometimes, you're going to eat those strawberries and over-do it. Love will take you over and cause you to do, say, think things you never thought you'd say or do or think. It'll give you a stomach ache and make you wish you hadn't moved so quickly or carelessly.

In the end, no matter the outcome, there's always tomorrow and the day after that - just ordinary, extraordinary days. There may not be an awesome gift or the reminder of heartbreak waiting for you, but there will be a God who loved you first, whose love casts out all fear, and whose love is more reliable than a bouquet of store-bought roses, whose gifts are better and more amazing than any amount of chocolate-covered strawberries. You're the loved by the One who counts.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Ashlee Eiland1 Comment