It's taken me thirty-one years, but I think I finally have Valentine's Day all figured out. It's not really about chocolate, roses, or tiny candy hearts. It's not about cards or balloons or stuffed teddy bears. It's not about romance or relationships or having a date for the dance. It's not even about love, at least, that's not all it's about.
The V in V-Day shouldn't stand for valentine. It should stand for "validation." Isn't that what we crave most on this day? The desire for validation is innate in us all, and what a powerful desire it is! We long to know that we matter, we are valued, we are accepted, we are loved.
That's why it hurts when we don't have a valentine. We feel rejected. When others are being called to the office at school to collect their overpriced flowers, our heart aches, because we feel like no one has noticed us. When we must spend V-Day alone, we may feel lonely, but that's just an aftershock of the pain of feeling like we don't matter on a day when others seem to be validated so well. It's also why even when we do receive some love on Valentine's Day, our longing for validation returns by February 15th. No gift or card or poem is strong enough to make us feel completely secure in our quest to be loved.
I don't think the antidote is to learn to ignore our desire for validation. After all, God set the desire to matter in each of our hearts as He wove us together in our mothers' wombs. But when we look for love (and validation) in all the wrong places, things start to go haywire.
God didn't intend for your sense of worth to hinge on whether or not you are someone's valentine. It wasn't His plan for you to define yourself by the attention you receive (or don't receive) from a boy. He didn't engineer your love tank to be fueled by people or achievement or outward beauty or success. That ache in your heart is set to work like a compass to point you toward ... the lover of your soul.
The good news is that God is generous with His words of affirmation. The Bible is chock-full of descriptions of His deep love for you. He doesn't hold back. He doesn't ask you to ignore your desire to be known, to be loved, to matter. Over and over again He will willingly scratch that itch in your heart to be loved extravagantly if you'll let Him.
Here are a few of my favorite examples:
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jer. 31:3).
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1).
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6–7).
Zechariah 2:8 and Psalm 17:8 call you the "apple of His eye." In many Scriptures God calls you His "beloved" (Ps. 127:2, Eph. 5:1, 2 Cor. 7:1).
Perhaps most importantly, Jesus' actions, specifically His willingness to die on the cross, screams, "I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE WORTH IT!"
So pay attention to that gnawing in your heart to be loved today, sweet girl. But don't fall for the trick that any ol' validation will do. If you have a valentine today, enjoy it. Take time to smell those roses. Eat an extra piece of chocolate for me. But see those tokens of love for what they really are—pale in comparison to the love God has for you. Don't run to others for validation on this day or the next. God's banner over you is love (Song of Sol. 2:4). Sit under that banner. Soak it in, and make the choice to let it be enough.