A "Bah, Humbag!" Valentine's Day
If you’ve somehow missed all the chocolate, teddy bears, and flowers in the grocery stores for the past few weeks, allow me to fill you in: Friday is Valentine’s Day. This day seems to elicit strong emotions from everybody. I’m sure some of you reading this fall on the happy, in-love-with-love side of the spectrum, while others of you may be something like the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day, hating every second of it (and everything that reminds you of it, probably including this post… Sorry). Before you stop reading, let me say that I don’t want to talk to you about how to find “the one” or how to put yourself out there just the right amount. I don’t want to talk about putting the spark back into your marriage. I don’t want to talk about how to get someone to notice you in a romantic way. What I do want to talk to you about is something that most certainly doesn’t get talked about enough during this season: contentment.
Yeah, you heard me right… With this holiday comes the overarching theme of discontentment, doesn’t it? If you’re single, you’re constantly flooded with reminders that you are not good enough, not worthy enough to be loved, and besides, all your friends are in relationships, so what’s wrong with you, anyway? If you’re in a relationship, you’re bombarded with temptation to compare your relationship to those around you (or those you see on jewelry store commercials), and you start to think your partner isn’t romantic enough or must not love you as much as these other guys love their wives/girlfriends.
The seeds of discontentment are sown and sprout rapidly. If we allow those seeds to take root, they are almost impossible to get rid of. Just as weeds choke out the roots of flowers, discontentment will choke out the abundant life that we are meant to have in Christ (John 10:10). So what can we do about it? How do we go about clearing out the pesky seeds of discontentment that are growing and allow the flowers to bloom instead?
Change your perspective. When we look to anything but Jesus to bring us contentment, we will always be let down. Things may bring us happiness for a while, but it won’t last indefinitely. Don’t look to a relationship to bring you real contentment. Look to Christ and what he’s given you. It’s hard to be discontent when you remind yourself of how valued you are by the Creator of the universe. Relationships with people may come and go, but Jesus is never going to walk away from you (Hebrews 13:5).
Stop comparing. Theodore Roosevelt (rightly) said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we start comparing what we have to what others have, we throw away our contentment. For example, I am single. I am content with that at this stage in my life. However, when someone I know gets into a relationship, I get a bit jealous and start wondering why I’m not in a relationship, too. Comparing makes me discontent with something that I was fine with before. Don’t compare your relationship to someone else’s.
Count your blessings. There’s an old hymn that goes, “When upon life’s billows, you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings. Name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done!” It’s easier to be content when you realize just how much you actually have. Instead of thinking about how you wish you were in a relationship, think of all the reasons you like being single. They don’t have to be profound. For example, one reason I like being single is that I can watch whatever movies I want without having to compromise if someone doesn’t want to watch what I do. If you’re married, instead of thinking about how your husband falls short or the things you wish he would do but doesn’t, think about all the things you love about him. What does he do that makes you smile?
Trust in God’s plan. Whatever your marital status, you can trust that God has a plan for you! Paul was able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV). He trusted in God to give him strength no matter his outward circumstances. He knew that God had a plan for him and would carry him through it, even though it might not all be easy. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul talks about a problem he’s having that he asks God to take away. God says no because his “power is made perfect in weakness” (ESV). Paul goes on to say that he is glad to be weak because it means that God can use him even more effectively. Now that’s contentment! The journey to where you’re going won’t always be easy or pain-free. Sometimes it can be lonely or scary. But I promise you that wherever you are in life right now, God has a plan and a purpose for your life and isn’t going to let you down or abandon you (Jeremiah 29:11).
Friend, take a minute today to remember just how blessed you are. In the shadow of this holiday that, while sweet, also promotes being discontent with what you have, don’t fall into the trap set for you. You may not have everything you want, but if you have Jesus, you have everything you need. Don’t lose sight of how precious you are to God. Whether you are single or in a relationship, be looking to him for your true source of contentment. Pray that he will help you to be content. Don’t compare what you have to what others have. Remember, how much God has blessed you with, and trust that he will bring you to where you’re meant to be. Lastly, whether you are single, dating, engaged, married, divorced, widowed, or whatever else, you are so absolutely loved and treasured. Don’t ever forget that.