Peter and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We did way back
when, in the early dating years, when we were teenagers. But we soon decided it
was simply an opportunity to support Hallmark, and we decided to celebrate the
joys of our relationship throughout the year. We’re fortunate enough to have a
weekly date night, and he does a good job of remembering to bring home flowers
on random occasions. So I don’t mind the lack of hoopla on February 14th.

If I were single, however, the hearts and flowers and
jewelry and dinners out would probably get to me. I’d want to sulk or complain
or curl up in a ball and bemoan my lot in life. And I imagine I would feel
jealous, at least for the day, of people like me, people with a steady and
faithful husband who don’t even need to think about Valentine’s Day because of
the relationship that sustains us the whole year long.

The funny thing is that sometimes I feel pangs of envy for
my single friends. Don’t get me wrong–I adore my husband. I’m incredibly
grateful for our children. And I know that living alone as an adult is tough.
And yet I want to believe that singleness, at least for a time, is also a gift.

Especially now that I’m a mom, my ability to care for other people has diminished. When my sister was in labor, I couldn’t simply rush to her side to be present for the birth of her son, even though I would have loved to be there, even though she was in the waiting room when Penny was born. When a friend is in the midst of a crisis–an illness, depression, whatever–I no longer have the capacity to respond immediately. When our church announces an opportunity to serve others–say, bringing dinner to a group of people on a Saturday night–it’s unlikely that I can participate. Having a family hems me in. It restricts my time, my attention, my abilities. Or maybe I shouldn’t say restrict, because I don’t mean it to be negative. Having a family condenses my time, my attention, my abilities. They have to be concentrated more fully on these little people who run around our house and need care.

If you are single this Valentine’s Day, I write this in hopes that it might encourage you, encourage you that as you wait for a partner and a family, you can bless those around you. And I hope and pray you will experience God’s blessing in return. 

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