Over the years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. As an adult, this holiday told me for years I was not lovable even though God says that I am. When I was a kid I loved this day. I loved taking the time to hand-select what card I would give each of my classmates. l put them in the envelope and would write my classmate’s name on them and add hearts. I couldn’t wait to give out my cards and get cards back. The parties were always filled with games, food, cupcakes, and homemade cookies from one of my classmate’s mom. The very first thing I did when I got home was open each card and read them out loud. I have never been a big candy eater so I would share it with my siblings. Nevertheless, I had a smile on my face at the end of this holiday.
Fast forward to adulthood. I have a really big heart. This is the way God made me. I love hard. I am a giver. I love to put smiles on people’s faces by giving them something they mention casually in our conversation. I overindulged with gifts, hugs, and lots of affection. At the core, this is just who I am.
There are multiple reasons why I am not a fan of this day now. 1. I believe it is over-commercialized. 2. One day shouldn’t prove that someone loves you. The other 364 days are equally as important as this one that leaves many sad and depressed. 3. The main reason for this blog post is that I have some extremely painful memories attached to Valentine’s Day. My relationships were always with emotionally unavailable men. Over the years, I found myself not getting back the love that I have poured out to the men I was in a relationship with. I found myself putting up walls around myself and my heart. This day was just too painful to visit. There was a never-ending cycle of trauma attached to it. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I cried out to God for help that I connected to the root of my love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. During my quiet time with God, it was revealed that I was living with a deep seed of emotional trauma attached to Valentine‘s Day.
February 14, 1998, is a day that I put a dump truckload of rocks around my heart, and I completely blocked out. NO woman wants to publicly admit that they have been date raped. Especially on Valentine’s Day. A day that the world is to see that someone loves you as much as you love them. It was the first year that I had been truly wined and dined. The toughest part was I became pregnant that dark Valentine’s Day in 1998 with my third child. It took me a while to accept what happened that night. I didn’t even realize that I was in denial for quite a few years. For almost two decades, I lived with a ton of shame, guilt, fear, anger, and sadness. I was mad at myself that I didn’t see it coming. From that day forward I continued to love on my children but left myself out of that equation for getting it back. I am good at giving love and still do give my children and the ones I love a small gift on this day. But, hating this day would allow me to disconnect my heart and my emotions and get through this very painful day.
The image of the bowls for this post are from my kitchen cabinet. I purchased them about 15 years ago for Valentine’s Day for my children and myself. Two are missing. One broke and the other one someone borrowed and never returned. Those two bowls are a whole other blogpost within themselves. However, if you look closely, you can see the bowls have cracks in them. These cracks have been the cracks in my soul that have been held together very well and not by myself. These cracks are the dark windows to my soul.
What you haven’t heard me say is where was God in all of this? I wasn’t even certain on how to give this day to God. The emotional trauma planted had been growing roots within the dark crevices of my soul for years. This was not going to be an overnight breakthrough. This required time and patience that I needed to recognize. When I finally believed this truth, God began to heal the cracks and mend the brokenness plaguing my life. Our heart and our soul are the glue that holds us together. God was holding my heart in his hand. It took me a minute, but I released all of this pain to God so my soul could heal too. I was afraid that if I let this go how vulnerable would this make me. Would it open the door to more hurt or would I completely be free from this bondage? Once I took a step toward healing, I began to walk towards the beautiful life of freedom. The past lie that held me in bondage and said I was loveless could no longer exist. Here is how I lovingly walked through the process with God‘s help:
- I stopped letting relationships and the lack thereof define me. It was tough but it was necessary. I kept looking for men to heal the hurt that I had been living with for decades that only God could heal. My name Cheryl means beloved. When I found this out, I chuckled because my name means love. And the enemy for years kept telling me I wasn’t. When God gave me the scripture from the Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am beloved, and my beloved is mine” it allowed me to connect to the love of the Father and it was the release of the healing of that darkness in my soul.
- I finally accepted the fact that I am likable and loveable. I chose to fall in love with me. I said YES to me! I began to look at what I liked and didn’t like about myself. I accepted the good, the bad, and the ugly of who I was. I began to love the unlovely and that unlovely I had been told was staring back at herself in the mirror for years. I saw what God had given me the ability to change and walked towards it. One of my favorite scriptures became my daily affirmation. Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” This new season is how I began to see the change that others could experience within me.
- I asked God to love on me and to show me how much he loves me. I asked God to treat me like I am truly his. All his. 1 John 4:16 was a gentle reminder. So we come to know and believe the love that God has for us is real. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. The expression of God’s love came in so many different forms. From standing in the elevator and my eyes draw to words on a gentleman’s wrist band with the words, I love you, to random gifts from my kids, to spending time with those that I know love me unconditionally.
If you are feeling loveless and needing something naturally and spiritually to make it through this Valentine’s Day, I would like to encourage you to do the following:
- Take time to show those around you how much you love them – It could be something small as delivering a handwritten notecard, homemade cookies, giving a pair of socks with heart shapes on them, or sending something to someone you love or someone in need since we are still in the middle of COVID season.
- Pay It Forward – spread kindness by purchasing the person’s coffee behind you in line. This good deed will go a long way for someone in need. Be prayerful about who God wants you to bless in these upcoming days. God wants your expression of his love to move the heart of the person that you are spreading kindness and love to.
- Speak life over yourself – I speak positive words of affirmation over myself on a consistent basis. Look at yourself in the mirror and forgive yourself for all the pain you have caused yourself and others have caused you. It is your past and it needs to stay there.
Once you take the time to see things from a different perspective, it gives life to dead things. That crack in your soul is bound to heal. What I know is God “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” according to (Psalm 34:18). Valentine’s Day is very different for me now. Most importantly, in Jeremiah 3:13, the LORD reminds us “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” That everlasting love has fueled my soul. I pray as you embark upon this day that you each breath in and accept the love that God has set aside for you. Foundationally it has been here from the moment you graced this planet with your life. May that love not just consume you today but for the rest of your life. And btw…Happy Valentines Day! YOU ARE LOVED!