I found myself on the Valentine’s aisle at Wal-Mart. Surrounded by red hearts and chocolate candy, each one enticing me to place them in my cart. Searching for the right card felt like agony.
I bumped into an old friend. “Single’s-Awareness Day!” she proclaimed. I turned toward her with a question in my eye. Not only was she married, she had several grown children. “That’s what my girls call it anyway,” she said with a tight smile. I understood then and smiled back.
As I was standing there I felt the weight of her words and the feelings they represented.
We continued fingering through the cards. Each one opening to a message that left us feeling emptier than the one before.
I turned toward her again and half whispered, “Valentine’s Day can sometimes be painful for married people too.” Her hand stopped half way to the rack, the card falling limp. Her eyes closed and she nodded. “MmmHmm.” That’s all she said. That’s all she needed to say. I saw the understanding flood over her face and seep out of her eyes.
I walked away without a card that day. Instead, I placed a bag of chocolates in my cart that I knew wouldn’t wait until V-Day to be eaten.
Somehow as a single person I had convinced myself that being married would fix all of my love issues. I would no longer walk the sidewalks, longingly staring at the couple holding hands. I would no longer feel the twinges of loneliness. I wouldn’t be impatient for my picture perfect life to begin, because I would be living it.
The moment I said “I Do” at the alter, I placed all of my heart needs on the shoulders of my husband. It was his job now to fulfill my every desire, to meet my every need and to ensure my ultimate happiness. An impossible burden to carry. “Married Bliss” is what they called it right? It didn’t take 12 hours after the wedding ceremony for me to look around wondering where it had gone.
I never counted on the fact that he might fall short in this area. That he might have issues of his own. That he might be…human. I knew he wasn’t perfect, after all we had dated for 5 years. But I guess I figured that a magical switch would flip on as we walked down that flower-petal-covered aisle.
I was devastated when I realized that it hadn’t. That there had never even been a switch to begin with.
I spent years reacting out of that devastation. Blaming him for the feelings of loneliness and betrayal. For feeling cheated and discontent. It was all somehow his fault.
Wasn’t marriage designed to reflect Christ? If so, then where was He in our marriage?
It took me a long time and many hard lessons to realize that my view and expectations of marriage were simply wrong and misguided.
I had been looking to my husband to be my Savior. I entered marriage thinking this would be the vessel God would use to bring me happiness and fulfillment.
And it did. Just not in the way I expected.
I thought it would be through the man. But instead it came through the Son of Man.
God wanted me to experience more than just a temporary happiness in marriage. He wanted to grant me an eternal joy that simply doesn’t make sense in worldly terms.
Like a child, I kept grabbing for what I thought would fill me. What I thought I needed. Even what I thought I wanted. But I kept coming up empty, unfulfilled and unsatisfied.
Like a parent, God showed me that I needed more. I needed more that just the snacks and desserts that looked right and even tasted good. I needed substance. I needed nourishment. I needed Him.
“COME all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55:1-2
In God’s economy we don’t need something to get something. In fact, He requires us to come with our nothing. Empty. Bankrupt. Broken.
He has laid out the best of the best. All we have to do is come and partake.
He tells us there is no cost. In one sense there isn’t. He does not look for payment, for He has paid it all. But there is a cost. The cost of dying to ourselves and laying aside our agenda and even what we think we might deserve.
And this is why:
“AS the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
Whether you are single or married, God is doing something bigger than you. But He has not forgotten you. Even though it may feel like that some days, especially on Valentine days.
The ache that you may feel because you don’t have someone to love or you do and they just don’t love you the way you need them to, points to something greater. And that is your greater need for Jesus. There is purpose in your aching. It is there to tell you to look to Him to touch the deepest recesses of your soul. No matter how many Valentine’s you may or may not receive. No matter how many bags of Pre or Post-Valentine’s chocolate you may eat. None of it will fill you like He can.
And even after you’ve learned these things and the days are still hard and you still can’t find the right words inside that card, go to THE Word. His life-giving words that can change your heart and fill it to overflowing.
“…so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace, the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
A Happy Valentine’s Day is still possible. Because there is One who loves you more than life itself. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ♥
Happy Valentine’s Day!