The Single’s Valentine’s Survival Guide

Red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, teddy bears, and candle-lit dinners… it’s that time of year again: time for singles to do a thinking check. The month of romance is upon us, and Valentine’s Day—also known as Singles Awareness Day—is approaching; but, more importantly, it is another opportunity for self-examination. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, what are you thinking? What are you believing?

What are you thinking?
Christians, including Christian singles, often make the mistake of failing to understand that we are different from those who do not know Jesus, and even worse, actually take on a worldly mentality. How do we have the mind of Christ when we are alone on a day that the world tells us we should not be? How do we think biblically when we legitimately feel lonely and really would like to be someone’s valentine? How do we look at the lovey-dovey couple and smile instead of feeling jealous and shouting at them to get a room? As singles who are followers of Christ, we have a calling: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2).

How do we change the way we think?
The Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and minds through the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 paints a picture of this kind of spiritual surgery: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” If we remain in the word of God, the Lord will inevitably reveal our weaknesses—out of his great love and mercy.

Now what?
From beginning to end, the Bible is one story concerning the good news of Jesus Christ–whether it points toward it in the Old Testament, gives an account of it in the Gospels, or points back to it in the New Testament. When we discern that our thoughts do not line up with scripture, we must look at those falsehoods in light of the gospel. The gospel declares that because of what Christ did for us—his incarnation, sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection—we have everything we need and long for in him alone. A worldly, empty pseudo-freedom cannot deliver. The gospel, however, truly liberates us. When we believe we have all we need in Jesus, we will not be needy for things that will never satisfy. A single Christian woman is free to desire flowers and a date for Valentine’s Day, but she is not crushed if that is not her reality this year—or any year—because she is secure in her identity in Christ. Furthermore, if she has honestly internalized gospel truths, she can be genuinely happy for the co-worker in the adjoining cubicle who receives a dozen roses from her valentine. Now that is freedom!

Too good to be true?
Of course, the foundation for a gospel-centered, gospel-thinking life is belief. Satan’s attempts to plant seeds of doubt are as old as the garden. Deep down, do we really believe that we have all we need in Christ? Unbelief is the sin underlying all sin, and when our focus is on self, it only breeds more sin. This is not to discount the very real pain of loss and loneliness, but an exhortation to fight against the lies of our enemy. Look outward rather than inward. Consider offering acts of service to others this Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few ideas: volunteer for a children’s classroom party; get some girlfriends together and make cards to deliver to a nursing home; offer to babysit for a couple so they can go out on a date; choose a few special cards to send to women who have made a difference in your life; or send your best single friend or your mom flowers of appreciation. The world tells us that we must create ourselves, reinvent ourselves in order to find ourselves. The gospel tells us that we are free to lose ourselves because we are found in Christ.

Peanuts theology
Finally, let’s learn a lesson from Charlie Brown. In the 1975 classic cartoon, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Charlie is tormented by the fact that he did not receive a single valentine, especially from the little red-haired girl. His idolatrous heart cries out: “I’d give anything if that little red-haired girl had sent me a valentine! I’m afraid to look! If I look and there’s nothing there, I’ll be crushed!!!” Charlie Brown allows himself to become consumed with anxiety and believe that his worth and value is entirely dependent upon whether or not he is someone’s valentine. Even worse, he is approached by one of the girls in his friendship circle who offers him a used Valentine’s Day card. In spite of Schroeder’s indignation and defense, Charlie Brown happily accepts the used valentine, as if that is all he is worthy of receiving.

While it is just a cartoon, Charlie Brown’s thinking and behavior here is, sadly, not so different from that of today’s single. Followers of Jesus Christ do not have to accept “used valentines” in the form of this world’s cheap substitutes. And—while a remote comparison—just like Schroeder, Christ said “No!” to lesser things for us by saying yes to the cross. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). God invites us to not settle for anything less than his love for us in Jesus Christ. He invites us to think upon the good news of the gospel, and to believe it. It is his free gift to us—every day of the year.

Dawn blogs regularly at dawncoates.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter at @thedawncoates.

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