I remember it all too well, the day of the year where I was reminded that I was single: Valentines Day. We called it single’s awareness day – many still do. I dreaded this day if I was rolling into it in my own state of singleness, which by-the-way, was pretty much every year in high school and college. Valentines day is the day that we’re told and almost constantly reminded that our society tells us to be HAPPY we must have a VALENTINE. For many of us the contrary seems to be true, because we’re single we must be miserable. Thank God for video games.
I’m hoping to maybe offer a few words and a thought if you’re reading this from a state of singleness. Honestly, if you find yourself in a relationship, there may be some nuggets for you in here as well.
One of my favorite movies to date is Moulin Rouge: Its a love story which has a quote in it that is echoing in my head as I write “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” We are made by God to need each other, and at the core of many of our relationships (friendship, romance, familial) is love. In Genesis 2:18 God says that it isn’t good for man to be alone, so he made a helper suitable for him – and then God made eve. I bet she was a babe – why else would Adam look at her and say “Woa, man!”?
I speak to many students (and adults) who struggle with singleness, but in reality I think so many of us struggle with loneliness – I’m happily married and I still struggle with loneliness. I’ve been married for about 10 1/2 years, 3,922 days to be exact, and there are times that I still feel lonely, unloved, unwanted, rejected, ignored, depressed…etc. you get the idea. It hurts sometimes. Here’s the point that I want you to get out of this post: being in a relationship with another person is NOT going to solve your feelings of loneliness. In-fact – being in a relationship may make it worse.
“Being in a relationship with another person is NOT going to solve your feelings of loneliness. In-fact – being in a relationship may make it worse.”
Let’s work through this idea that being in a relationship with a person is not a silver bullet to solve your loneliness or your desire to be loved. Loneliness is uncomfortable, its unbearable at times. It’s so uncomfortable that in-fact, we’ll do just about anything we can to solve it, we’ll try to distract ourselves with video games, sports, binge-watching shows on netflix, and often this loneliness pushes us into things less praise-worthy. Loneliness can push us into drugs, alcoholism, porn, one-night stands and while all this satisfies temporarily, it damages us longer term. A quick aside – I’m resisting the urge to type “permanently” because even the most damaged people have can have hope through Jesus.
When you bring yourself alongside another person into a romantic relationship, you end up sharing a lot of things with that person; thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, a walk, a hand… spit. We romanticize the romance of a relationship, all the good things that come with it, but we ignore the messy things. We each bring in some kind of baggage into a relationship and we end up sharing that baggage with each other – this is why I want you to understand that a relationship is not going to solve your loneliness. Loneliness is baggage. Baggage gets heavy, especially when you’re expecting the other person to carry it.
Imagine you go on vacation with your future family (or current family). You pack everything nice and neat into one bag easy to move, easy to carry. Your wife has her clothes bag, her makeup bag, her toiletry bag, her purse, her backpack, and she even packed the dog in a handy carrying kennel convenient with a handle. Could you imagine after driving for hours, you’re exhausted butt finally gets to the hotel and you hand your bag to the bellhop. In turn the bellhop then hands you your wife’s bags! That’s a comical illustration of what we get in a relationship.
It’s unfair to expect someone to fix you, to carry your baggage. Resist the urge to pair up with someone who is also dealing with loneliness – their loneliness and your loneliness will not cancel each other out, it exacerbates it. You still end up carrying your partner’s baggage when you were hoping to off-load it on them – and it might be worse than yours. Ever hear one of your friends complain about a needy boyfriend/girlfriend? The other person is expecting your friend to carry their baggage, and if you’re friend is complaining about it, then perhaps they are breaking under the weight of their partner’s expectations.
We need to come to terms with loneliness before we step into a relationship with another person. Solomon writes several times in the Song of Songs to “not awaken love before it is ready.” We open ourselves up for additional pain when we get into a relationship before we’re ready to come alongside someone, to support them in their walk and their struggles – which is why I said that being in a relationship with another human, who is most likely also damaged, can be emotionally worse than remaining single.
I believe that the cure to finding solace and healing from loneliness is to be able to look to your Creator who made you – whom all good things flow from. We know that He cares for you, that He provides for you and He has a plan for you. Therefore, you can look to Him, the Author and Perfecter of your faith, of your life and your love. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. He knows what you need, better than you do.
I share this with someone struggling with wanting relationship. Imagine a triangle: God is at the top, you are in one corner, and your future bae is in the other. If you keep your eyes fixed on God, and keep pursuing Him, as you and your future spouse-to-be is moving towards Him, eventually you will be brought together. Pretty cool eh?
I think the key to finding happiness in a day that may not be very happy to you is this, and it is found in the very greeting of “Happy Valentine’s Day” – one definition of happiness is defined as “contentment”. Paul, writing to Timothy (1 Tim 6:6) says that “godliness with contentment is a great gain.” So my wish for you this today as you have found this page on a day you are very aware of your singleness, to have a content valentines day.