I’m still trying to figure out why I keep forgetting it’s Valentine’s Day now that I’m married, when it used to haunt me when I was single.
As I have hopped around Facebook this 2/14/14 (or 14/2/14, depending), I have noticed that it does indeed seem to be haunting a number of my single friends and family. Since I was among their ranks not all that long ago, I recognise the sentiments. Because frankly, telling everyone else, or being reminded myself, that “it’s not a real holiday” didn’t ever relieve the frustration much. Whether it was a “real” holiday or not (whatever that even means–aren’t they all made up, on some level?), there was really a lot of in-my-face hearts and schmaltz and flowers-for-other-people and romantic dinners out that I wasn’t having–and to make matters worse, it had been like that my whole life. I didn’t even get many of those cheap cartoon-themed store-bought cards that kids always passed out in elementary school–and if I did, it was only because the donors’ mothers were the kind who made their children give one to everyone in the class.
They were usually unambiguously un-“romantic,” too, even for kids’ cards. If someone had had a “cousin” one they could have palmed off on me, they probably would have.
(There were the mystery carnations that time in eighth grade . . . but one of them turned out to be from my dad, and the other one turned, for a long time, into a reminder of missed opportunities. And I still don’t know which of them gave me the pink one versus the red one. Heyyyyyy . . . )
Somewhere I have a photo of them, they were that momentous at the time. (Just no longer momentous enough for me to remember where it is.)
So, speaking of real, I happen to believe that Jesus is a real person and a real God, and that you can really get to know Him, and that He can and will even communicate with you directly. This has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, it’s comforting to know that the Being who made you also loves you and has your back. On the other hand, sometimes having the God of the Universe impinging on your personal agenda can be a little . . . oh, I don’t know . . . inconvenient? (There are other more alarming adjectives which could also legitimately be used, but they’ll side-track this post, so we’ll leave them alone for now.)
I left London in 2002. Up until about nine months earlier, I had been planning to apply for British citizenship (dual, actually) and relocate there for the rest of my life. Then, through a series of events, sensations and conversations, I began to think that God wanted me to come back to the U.S. I had promised to go where He wanted and do what He wanted and I had gone to London on His account anyway, so I guess if He was done with me there it made sense to come back, but I was angry about it. I was also angry that I was turning 30 that year and that up to that point I still had never gotten past a first date with anyone (and there had been very few of those), let alone been in a romantic relationship of any duration or significance.
By the time Valentine’s Day 2003 rolled around, I realised that (my last shred of hope) I had not been “called” back to the U.S. to “meet someone” (at least . . . not for another eight or so years). Jesus was all I had left. I sort of resented this, but I was also sort of aware that I needed Him to be all that I needed, or a relationship wasn’t really going to fix anything, so I decided to have a Valentine’s date with Him.
Bear with me–this gets cheesy, but it really helped. I don’t remember where my roommate was that night (she didn’t have a boyfriend either, but she definitely wasn’t there), but I made the nicest dinner I could think of, and I got dressed up and ate it, and then I leafed through the Bible until I found a passage that I thought was something God especially wanted to communicate to me right then, and one that I especially felt I could pray to Him. Then I got out my pens and glue and ribbons and construction paper and made two Valentine’s Day cards–one for me, and one for Jesus. I did that every year on Valentine’s Day after that, until I met my Paul.
I told my Paul about it for the first time today. “Jesus probably misses those Valentine’s Days,” he said. “I hope He’s not sitting at home all by Himself today–writing bitter things on Facebook.”
My Paul went to finish getting ready for work. I looked out the window and saw this:
This pretty much sums up Jesus’ and my relationship: dark and light, vibrant grey, a beautiful Tree, and lace.
“Nope,” I thought to myself. “He’s not posting bitterly on Facebook. I think He just sent me a card.”
So this is mine. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jesus. I love You.