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Is Valentine's Day an Amateur, Hallmark Holiday?

Feb 07, 2019

When I first became a Christian, I remember a wise older man told me he wasn’t going to church on Easter. I was surprised, especially in my newfound excitement about the faith.

“What? Why not?” I asked.

“It’s amateur day,” he said. “People go who never go any other day of the year and really aren’t serious about it. So, it is too crowded and I just stay home with God.”

I walked away thinking, “weird.” But there was a point to it ... sometimes “special days” take on a meaning to people as if they are the essence of what they are meant to symbolize and commemorate. Easter should be a day that symbolizes what we realized each and every 365 days: we have a risen Savior. He is alive every day. And then on that day, we celebrate the reality that we have all the year long.

Now, about Valentine’s day ...

Apart from being a windfall for Hallmark, what is it for us? Hopefully, it is also a symbol for what is happening on the other days in the year. For married people and singles in serious relationships, it should be a day that celebrates all of the good stuff you are expressing to each other all year long. No “amateur” day ...right? Just as going to church on Easter does not mean a person has faith, neither does breaking down and buying a card for a spouse mean that good things are happening the rest of the year. It should not just be a “cease-fire” where you try to be loving for a day and then devour each other for the rest of the year. It should remind people of what they have and share, and also inspire to continue to practice that kind of love all year long.

Also, remember other people than your spouse or the one you are dating. For other important people in your life, you might let it remind you that they would like to hear from you as well ... (especially Moms….they like this sort of thing).

So, what if it is the worst day of the year for you?

The reality is that it is often a day of reminding some people of what they don’t have and are longing for, single or married. For the married folks, it should be a call to action. Let this day symbolize what you want, and maybe start you off on a little different plan for getting there than the one you have been working so far. Kind of a wake up call if a relationship is not going well. Maybe it can be a day where the two of you think of a new direction for your relationship, possibly even getting some help. But what if you are single?

Many times, Valentines day reminds some singles of what they are long for and have not found. What to do then? Here are a couple of thoughts:

First, see it as a time to celebrate the love that you do have in your life right now: your friends and community, family and friends. Make it a point to let some people know that on Valentine's Day you were thinking of all of the sources of love in your life and you wanted to thank them for being one. They will love it, and you will be reminded of how fortunate you are to have them. You will feel more grateful and know that you are not alone on the planet. If you look around and don’t have a community of friends, then make that your first priority. That may be the real reason this day is the worst, as it gets you in touch with a deeper aloneness than not having a Valentine. It may remind you that you are alone. Make finding community the first call to action.

Second, as I mentioned above, see it as a symbol and reminder for what is happening the rest of the year. “Wait a minute….,” you might say. “That is the problem. I don’t have anything going the rest of the year. That is why I am bummed out today!” Ok, good. That is a good awareness to have. So, ask yourself the hard question. “If I don’t like where things are, what am I truly doing about it besides wishing, praying and waiting?” In my book “How To Get A Date Worth Keeping,” I talked about how a lot of Christians approach dating in a very different way than they approach the rest of life, and different that the bible tell us to approach life. They think that somehow God is just going to drop this person into their lives, without their doing anything. Really? Is that how he provided a job for you? Or a church? Or food every day? No….he provided those, but you got off the couch and went looking for it too.

So, maybe it is time to get a plan and think about how you would like for your dating life to look different and start to work it. For some, that might mean some hard stuff….maybe even some therapy to work through some old hurts or fears. For others, it might mean getting out of some comfort zones. Either way, what I have found is that it can be an awesome growth journey when people decide to own it and go for it. Make a commitment that next Valentine’s Day will be different than this one. Even if you are not in a serious relationship by then, you will be having a blast in your dating life.

So, in sum….Valentine’s Day can be a celebration of what you already have, or it can be a wake up call to find what you haven’t found. Either way, even if it might be a reminder of some disappointment, it can be transformed into hope if you let it jumpstart you to a different future.

Need a safe place to relate to others about this topic? Join one of Dr. Henry Cloud's Boundaries Peer Groups. 

Boundaries in Marriage
Boundaries with Codependency
Boundaries in Dating
Boundaries with Parents
Boundaries with Adult Children
Boundaries After Divorce
Boundaries with Narcissists

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