by Alma Sanchez & Bridget Holtz
Single. Never-been married. Freshly broken-hearted. Widowed. Divorced. Well, a few of those categories described me at one time or another. If Valentine’s Day is for lovers, then what does that have to do with me?
For many years, Valentine’s Day seemed torturous when not in a relationship. When newly divorced, it was an Anti-Valentine’s Day, ‘Love Stinks,’ ‘Black’ whatever day of the week it fell on, or Singles Awareness Day celebration. It is easy to be vindictive, to resent this day in the context of what the world has made it, to focus on the things we do not have, and to believe that “God has remembered everyone except for me. I’m alone. I don’t count. This day is ridiculous.” I took refuge in wallowing in my own pain and loneliness, which made the day bearable. Although I made it through, there was no real progress made. It was just a mask to an underlying issue and omission of a leering wound caused by previous failed relationships.
After several years of self-pity and wallowing, I realized that I would rather enjoy the day. If we consider that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and that romance is not the only version of love, a change in mindset will allow us to reference and remember the types of love that are listed in the Bible; Eros: romantic; Phileo: deep friendship; Storge: family love; and Agape: divine, pure or self-sacrificing love.
If as a single you are not experiencing Eros Love, who says we cannot celebrate the other types of love in our lives? I personally love to host a dinner party for my single girlfriends. Celebrating Phileo love is one of the most rewarding things to do. One year, my girlfriends and I grilled steaks and had a full-blown, four-course dinner, each love-themed, of course! Another friend of mine shared that she likes to hand out valentines to her friends. Valentine’s Day is always a perfect day to express your love to your friends in unexpected ways. Last year my daughter baked heart-shaped cakes for each of her co-workers. It is also a good idea to plan ahead for it so that the day can be enjoyed and you don’t have to worry about “How will I act when my co-workers start receiving roses?” If you are prepared to face it, you can already have set expectations and choose not to dwell on other things happening around you. You have the opportunity to get caught up in your own love of friends. Try calling a friend instead of sending a text. Plan a dinner party of your own. Host a wine-tasting or a ‘Wine and Cheese night.’ Get creative – make it personal!
Celebration of Storge love is very similar to celebrating Phileo love. Plan ahead for it! I am currently working on finding little trinkets and thoughtful items to give my daughter a little love basket on Valentine’s Day. I won’t say what, because she’s probably reading this, but pay close attention to what your son, daughter, mother, sister, brother or father might be needing, or something that reminds you of them and pick it up next time you are at the store. Remember, little things can mean a lot. Save these for Valentine’s Day and spend the evening visiting or contacting them, and bring or send them gifts. If you don’t have the money to spend, jot down some thoughts about what is going on in their life and write them a little note of encouragement and support.
The knowledge that one is loved and remembered is the best kind of Valentine!
When we have recently lost a love, by breakup, death or divorce, Valentine’s Day can be most challenging. If this is you, you might consider celebrating Agape love. How do you celebrate divine, pure and self-sacrificing love? Well, the best way I can think of to love God is by attending Mass. Nothing better than to spend time with Jesus, right? If Mass is not feasible for you, carve out some time in your morning to pray a Litany of Thanksgiving. Make a statement of gratitude for the good things in your life, the gifts you have been given, what a broken relationship has taught you about yourself and/or how you have grown from it. A pastor recommended this to me when I was struggling to find anything positive in my hyper-awareness of being single and alone. If you know that day will be challenging for you, it’s good to get your mind and heart right so that you are able to receive the love of Christ and the love of others that will be reaching out to you. It may not be in big ways, but God makes Himself known to us often in the smallest moments. Ask Him to make you sensitive to the ways He is loving you. Challenge yourself to be open to it and to look for it in others.
When you find yourself in a state of anger, frustration and even depression when thinking about relationships, it is good to focus on God and on yourself. That’s right, I said yourself. To love oneself is to love God. To honor ourselves is to honor God. If you find that you are feeling resentful, damaged, unworthy or broken, Isaiah 54 may speak to you. Here, God tells you He will restore and honor you, and He will expand your love, and your capacity to love, beyond what you can imagine! He loves you. There is no doubt. If you are in this place, take the day to celebrate YOU, that you are wonderfully and perfectly made by God in His image. Love yourself by treating yourself to something you would not normally do: a quiet evening, taking yourself to dinner, reading a book, getting a massage, taking a nice long bubble bath, watching a cheesy movie or getting your nails done! Practice a random act of kindness, find new inspiration for a project you’ve left undone, reach out to that person you’ve been wondering about, or go to bed early and give yourself the gift of rest. Focus on the truth that you are worthy of God’s love and all of the love he has placed around you. Even if you cannot feel it or see it, believe that it is true. Because it is.
So, my friends, let’s love love. Let’s embrace it as singles this year. Now, get going and start your planning. LOVE is in the air!