It’s Valentine’s Day, 1982. I’m in the 5th grade and dreading the ensuing moments that unfold like a slow-motion sequence right before my eyes. I’ve been here before. Just this time last year, I was sitting in another classroom in another desk with another group of classmates and yet it’s the same scenario all over again.
But the inevitable becomes reality – my nightmare comes true. I get valentines from the eight people who give them out to everyone anyway, three from people that are even lower on the “food chain” than I am and one from my teacher, Mr. Denham, who is the only one to write anything on my valentine besides filling in the pre-marked “To: ______________” and “From: _________________” blanks. Another disastrous, unfulfilling Valentine’s Day.
Maybe for you, your disillusionment with St. Valentine and his “day” comes from somewhere else. Maybe you’re the “steady friend” who’s always been there for someone else, but who never receives back the kind of help or encouragement that you give. Or maybe you’re the one who always has to initiate in a relationship and once, just once, you’d like to see the other person show that they appreciate your concern and efforts. Or maybe you’re happily married and know that your spouse loves you, but have just come to feel unappreciated and insignificant in the everyday routine of life. No matter what the cause, if you despise Valentine’s Day, you join the ranks of those who yearn to be valued and made to feel significant.
I was once a part of that society, the “Valentine’s Day Dreaders,” but I have ceased to be a member due to my understanding of a few things, three in particular. First, as I began to get a grip on how truly valuable I am to God, I embraced His love and it provided all of the significance for which I had yearned. Second, I came to understand that if I was not a “special someone” to somebody around me, I was all the more able to engage my availability to God and live out His purpose with single-minded devotion. Third, now that I am my wife’s valentine, I have discovered that in order to demonstrate my love for her effectively, I’ve got to be speaking her “language.”
Grasp the magnitude of your VALUE to God
Why does it seem so trite to hear “But God loves you” when you’re feeling insignificant and unappreciated? Maybe it’s because you don’t understand what it means when you hear that phrase. If you’re a relatively good person anyway, who wouldn’t love you? You’re pretty downright loveable in the first place. You haven’t murdered anyone, haven’t abused any children, haven’t cheated on your spouse. What’s not to love?
But when you look at the Bible, you realize that from the perspective of a holy, sinless God, you’re not as loveable as you may think. Ephesians 2:3 includes you along with all of humanity as being “by nature, objects of wrath.” Wow. Did you read that right? You, an object awaiting destruction? Who could value someone like that? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God, that’s who.
And how did God demonstrate his love for you?
Here’s a few ways . . .
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . . “ (Colossians 1:22).
Once you begin to grasp the magnitude of God’s love for you, the degree to which He went to demonstrate your value to Him, you will never be the same. You will experience what extravagant, excessive love is all about. You will be reminded that your worth is not based on your performance – it is not derived from how attractive you are or how successful you are or how competent you are or how funny you are – but on His perfection that liberated you from a life defined by sin and self.
Utilize your singleness VALIANTLY
If you’re single, it’s especially difficult at a time of year like Valentine’s Day when everything screams “couple.” However, the Apostle Paul describes singleness as a “gift” because it is, indeed, better than being married when it comes to serving God undividedly. You are to utilize your “gift.” He writes to the Corinthians,
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman . . . is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
While singleness is a gift you may want to exchange, recognize that it is a life-stage that is bursting with opportunity to live undividedly devoted to Christ. You will never have the availability to serve God singlemindedly like you have now. The opportunities to travel, to prepare, to serve and to invest in people is in front of you, just waiting for you to get off the couch and into God’s will.
And since you don’t need recognition from someone to understand your worth, you are free to stop pursuing others’ affections as you begin to share freely the love you have received from God. Your focus shifts from searching for your value to now valuing others because God extends His love to them through you. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1, 2).
VALIDATE your love for your spouse
In his book “The Five Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman categorizes the ways people communicate and receive love into five distinct “love languages” which include: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. He writes, “If you express love in a way your spouse doesn’t understand, he or she won’t realize you’ve expressed love at all. The problem is that you’re speaking two different love languages.”
In order to understand what “love language” your spouse speaks, you have to find out! For some, it’s obtained through “secret agent” maneuvers like talking to her sister or asking his buddy. For others, it’s brilliant deduction – comparing past expressions that were wonderfully received to those that were exchanged at the store later that week. For most, it will require a humble inquiry that goes something like this: “Sweetie, if you could imagine me demonstrating just how much you mean to me this Valentine’s Day, what would that look like?”
God is honored in your marriage where expressions of love and care are freely and consistently shared. “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . may you ever be captivated by her love” (Proverbs 5:18, 19). This Valentine’s Day, go to great lengths to communicate clearly your love in the language that your spouse speaks.
Now that I’ve come to understand these three realities, I no longer cringe at the mention of “cupid” or gag when I see those chalk-like candies in the shape of hearts with the words on them. I know what God has written upon my heart and that provides all of the significance I need: You are mine.
Todd Arnett, Senior Pastor