I’ve always had a hate-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. I was never the girl who got the “good” valentines from classmates in school—you know, the kinds of valentines that were reserved for the cutest and most valued people in the class. It is amazing how our culture tends to assign value to people according to their desirability, even as early as elementary school. I grew up feeling like I was always someone’s last choice.
I also grew up feeling like I was God’s last choice.
I didn’t understand why I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I never knew why I lived in a home where I never felt loved and valued. I may not have admitted it, but I grew up thinking that the only reason God showed me any love at all was because since He is God, He has to. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t upset with other people or with God for this lack of love I felt. I despised myself, thinking there was some reason I was incapable of being loved.
And there was something in me that was forever striving to be worthy of love.
Since I never felt worthy, I was never able to accept the love God so desired to lavish upon me. I was stuck in a feedback loop until a wise person told me to start looking myself in the mirror and proclaiming God’s love for me. Sometimes I felt ridiculous, and sometimes I felt angry at what seemed like a lie I was forcing myself to say. I wish I could say that some magical moment happened and that God just filled me with overwhelming feelings in an instant. The truth is that healing crept up on me unawares.
After some time, I finally came to a moment when I realized I actually believed myself when I said those things in the mirror. It really was a good feeling. I was able to bask in the love of God and let it soak into my soul. In that moment, I didn’t feel like God had grudgingly given me the worst valentine in the box. I felt like He had labored for days, creating a handmade valentine, just with me in mind. I felt like I had been gladly given his very best.
But, love is generally a transitive verb—it demands an object toward which the action moves.
All of us who are so loved by the Father have stores upon stores of love to give. And, I was able to make peace with Valentine’s Day when I realized that it did not have to be all about a romantic love relationship that I didn’t have. I made my personal Valentine’s Day celebrations into a reflection on the love I receive from God and others as well as the love I give back to them.
So, this Valentine’s Day, no matter what your official relationship status is, remember how deeply you are loved by God and remember all the people in your life with whom you share different forms of love. Whether it is romantic love, the love of friendship, family love, or neighborly love, take some time today to share the love…maybe even toward yourself.
Patricia Taylor is editor for Soul Care Collective and a member of the Seedbed Farm Team.