February 14th, Valentine’s Day!
It’s been a fascinating date engraved in my mind since I was eleven. My very conservative Christian parents had enforced a strict “no boyfriend policy.” To circumvent this rule without earning their wrath, my older cousin recruited me to secretly serve as her romantic concierge. My principal task was to run errands with her boyfriend. I’d like to think I handled my tasks with due diligence. First, I was always punctual. I ran smooth operations. But perhaps my greatest asset was my innocent, unsuspecting looks. It gave me the stealth to fly undetected under my parents’ vigilant disciplinarian radar.
On Valentine’s Day that particular year, my cousin’s boyfriend handed me a parcel for a special delivery mission. It was an artificial rose exuding a captivating fragrance (the poor rose had been doused with perfume), a sealed envelope, a medium chocolate bar, a small teddy bear, and an Ultra Juliette deodorant. “Please, make sure no one else sees this.” He cautioned repeatedly. “You bet!” I nodded but didn’t move an inch. He figured I needed motivation, so he gave me a lollipop and off I went.
Halfway home, I got curious and examined the chocolate bar as I walked on. A few steps thereafter, I found myself being quietly subdued by the sometimes undetachable allure that is temptation. Alas! The same Serpent that had led Adam and Eve astray in the garden of Eden, was now stalking me.😊 Somewhat instantly, I heard an audible voice from my mind: “Do you REALLY need to give her all these?” I found somewhere in a nearby park to sit and process the surging thoughts, although out of a mischievous impulse, I was already inclined to invade the contents of the parcel. First, I smelled the rose … tried on the deodorant … toyed with chocolate bar … and neatly unsealed the envelop to see if attached items were listed. They weren’t!!! It was just a signed heart-shaped card labelled “To my Valentine” and the equivalence of five dollars tugged between its pages. I took out the money and resealed the envelope with surgical precision. Next, I helped myself with the chocolate and waited for it to digest. The teddy bear seemed age appropriate, so I owned it. Needless to say, only the card, rose and deodorant made it home to my cousin. (Don’t judge! Old things have passed away) 😊
So much time has since gone by, but I still feel the buzz each time January rolls out. I walked into the shopping mall on February 1st and couldn’t help but notice that Christmas season merchandise had been summarily replaced by Valentine’s Day’s listings, stocks and supplies. Cupid had taken over from Santa Claus. If months took on particular colours as their mascots, February’s would most certainly be red! If they had emblems, February’s would surely a heart. And if months came labelled with catch-phrase themes, oh boy, February’s would no doubt be “love.”
As a Christian, you know Valentine’s Day is around the corner when your Pastor either begins a new sermon series on love or finds a way to anchor every other sermon on love. Church announcements become about events like “Couples’ dinner/ Banquet,” “Couples’ night out,” “A Date with your Spouse,” “Couples’ retreat”, “Couples’ month” … and oh, let’s not forget the other compensatory events for singles like “love feast,” “Choosing a Spouse Seminar” or youth evangelistic hangout. 😊 It’s hard to miss the fuss.
My curiosity about the fuss with Valentine’s Day led me to research its genesis. I was surprised by the many folklores on the subject. However, since the 14th Century and the legendary Poems of Chaucer, it is recognized in many regions around the world as a celebration of romance and romantic love. No wonder the Day is popular for weddings, marriage proposals, love proclamation or other forms of “romantic firsts” – like dates, kisses, and … (the rest is up for guesses). I imagine that this is the day Cupid makes quite some mistakes too! Pregnancies often follow, and unfortunately, some lives get ruined,
As a single Christian, Valentine’s Day can be daunting and that’s totally normal. It tends to reinforce what I already know – that I am single. It increases the attractivity of marriage and suggests that the marriage bed is warmer (Is it?). Even in Church, I sometimes hear romantic love when the Pastor chooses to preach on the love of Christ during this season (😊Despicable me).
The aroma of romance that comes with Valentine’s Day can easily make one feel excruciatingly lonely, discontent, sad and tired of being sad. Many would recall and brood over a relationship that ended badly, how long the waiting period is taking, how long it’s been since someone showed any genuine relationship interest, how every “good one” seems “taken” etc. Again, this is perfectly human (don’t tarry here though, lest you get a heartburn – like literally). This build-up of anxiety and pressure often finds a familiar vent amongst singles during this period. The self-soothing expression “Jesus is my Valentine” becomes very trendy. But can Jesus really be anyone’s Valentine?
As cool as this expression sounds, I have found it somewhat challenging appropriating it for myself. It almost feels as though I was attempting to equate the Creator to a canonized human saint, and in the process, downgrading His overwhelming Agape love to the realm of Eros. What do you think?
I am quite happy to sit out of Valentine’s Day throughout my season of singleness. Jesus is NOT my Valentine. He is so much more. I don’t say this out of frustration. I have resolved to relish God’s gifts of contentment, fulfillment and hope — gifts that Christ purchased for us, single or married. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6-8). #Contentment&Hope
Tell you what though, as a sweet tooth, I’d probably go chocolate shopping after Valentine’s Day. It will be much cheaper then. 😊
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Stay tuned for the next post on February 23, 2019. If you missed the last post on “Giving God Deadlines,” you can catch up here.
God bless you,
The Christian Bachelorette.