Is it just a day for couples to show off?
I saw a video on TikTok where a guy was saying that the purpose of Valentines day is for 'people to show off that they are in a relationship and make single people feel alone', and you know what, it made me feel really sad.
I've seen this point of view multiple times and it's upsetting to know that, seemingly, many people feel this way. I don't think those in relationships aim to make others feel alone, I think that people's intentions are quite the opposite; to use the opportunity to show others that they are loved.
It isn't easy to be reminded that others have something that you desire when you don't, and I don't want to distract from that at all. I also don't want you to believe you are wrong for not feeling complete without a relationship, because whilst God wants us to put Him first, that doesn't mean you 'only need God'.
“Our basic need is for relationships with God and each other in order to be whole"
- Dr Mark W. Baker
We are made in the image of God, and God is fundamentally relational with us. He expects us to be relational with one another for our own good.
When God asked us to 'Love your neighbour as yourself' He was considering how loving one another builds relationships and, ultimately, helps us to feel whole.
Even at the start of the bible, when our relationship with God was perfect, God said:
"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper, a companion"
God created us to be in close relationships with others as well as Him. If we do not have deep, meaningful relationships with others, the resulting state of mind is loneliness:
'Loneliness is not the same as social isolation. People can be isolated (alone) yet not feel lonely. People can be surrounded by other people, yet still feel lonely'
Whilst feeling lonely and feeling sadness about not having a romantic relationship aren't the same, one can trigger the other.
It's really important for us to have people we can relate with to avoid long-term loneliness; not having close relationships in any format and isolating ourselves socially can be really bad for our health. A 2019 study led by Kassandra Alcaraz, PhD, MPH, a public health researcher with the American Cancer Society, looked at data from over 580,000 adults and found that social isolation increases the risk of premature mortality from all causes and in all races (American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 188, No. 1, 2019).
No matter whether you are an introvert, extravert, single, married, we all need meaningful relationships. God's kindness is that no matter what phase you're in, it's freeing to get alongside others that you can relate to.
How do we build that closeness?
This currently feels particularly difficult, during a pandemic when we cannot interact face-to-face!
Within words such as 'relate' or 'relationship' is the Latin root word 'Lat' which means to 'carry' - this alludes that our relationships are formed by the interactions we carry back and forth between people. Do we carry actions of dislike, envy, love?
I suggest that in re'lat'ionships we invest into them by carrying each other, sometimes a lot sometimes a little. The bible tells us to 'carry each other's burdens' (Galatians 6:2); in the relationships we have, we aim to carry good things in and bad things out, and in some way we therefore make one another's burdens lighter.
Jesus commanded us:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" (Matt 22 37-39).
One of the key messages here is that if we consider how we feel, it can inform us on the actions we carry over to others to contribute to our relationship with them. One thing I really enjoy during lockdown is receiving unexpected post, so to show some of my girl-friends some love, I decided to post out some cards for valentines. My hope is that this will help to ‘carry’ some people who might otherwise feel alone.
So my encouragement is to focus on making V-day about celebrating the relationships you have with others no matter what format they are in! Use it as an opportunity to 'carry' others in love and appreciation and carry away loneliness.
And if you are in a romantic relationship, it is a wonderful opportunity to love on your partner, fiancé, spouse and celebrate the years you have spent together - it gives hope to others knowing you have continued to choose to walk through life alongside one another!
Lots of love x