I used to frown upon February 14.
While it is a celebration for many, it is not an occasion to look forward to for most singles like me.
However, since I moved into my forties, I began to feel differently about Valentine’s Day. I have since moved from disliking it to being indifferent about it. With age and, more importantly, spiritual maturity, I have begun to see my singleness as a gift.
The apostle Paul argues that the gift of singleness is undistracted freedom to please Christ. In 1 Corinthians 7:32 (ESV), Paul says, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.”
While this “undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:35, ESV) can be reflected in activities like earnest prayer, it also certainly includes the kinds of service Paul himself offered: preaching, teaching, evangelism, training, correspondence, discipleship, encouragement, organisation, biblical interpretation, and so on. Without the immediate pressing concerns of providing for a spouse and children, Paul could devote himself wholeheartedly and single-mindedly to the building of God’s Church and His kingdom.
I have come to appreciate that singleness is not a trial to endure, even for those who long to be married and are not. It is a gift to be cherished and maximised. I have come a long way to accept that I ought not to waste my singleness by viewing it as a test, but should instead cherish the journey. I now see it as a precious gift from the Lord while I am here this season, and I also embrace that it is God’s will for me to remain single at this point in my journey.
There are many kinds of love in this world, but His love for us is the best. I have realised that the best love is agape love, as demonstrated by God showing His love for us by sending Jesus His only Son. He showed His love for us by sending His only Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8). It is unmerited grace. It is undeserved love. He did not even have to do it, but He did it because of His love for humanity. What kind of love could top that?
I now see Valentine’s Day (and every day of my life, for that matter) as an opportunity to let God’s love be reflected through my life. It is no longer necessary to seek a special relationship to fill a void. Without the stress of finding a significant other, I can now invest more time and resources in quality friendships that will last a lifetime.
I intentionally commit to healthy social connections for self-care and to have a community to care for others and be cared for by others. Through my communities in Wesley Methodist Church, I have opportunities to share abundance, joy, aspirations, sorrows, and life.
I am grateful that the Lord has placed me in two Small Groups since I accepted the Lord in 1992. In my twenties, as a young Christian, I joined my first Small Group, called Genesis, as their youngest Small Group member. The rest of the members in that Small Group were primarily close to their retirement years then, and they were instrumental in building up my faith.
When I was in my forties, I joined another Small Group, Anchored in Christ (AiC), which comprises mainly nuclear family units. AiC has provided me with insights and first-hand experience of the joys and pains of being a spouse and parent. From journeying with them, I saw the perspectives of married couples and parents. I understood why singles could devote themselves more fully to God’s work. I can appreciate what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 (ESV), that singleness is a gift:
I wish that all were as I am. But each has his gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
AiC and my other Church communities are now my spiritual families.
Most of all, my spiritual families in AiC and other Church communities are places where I could let His love shine through me. And through these communities, I also experience genuine love from God.
God ensures that all of us are loved through the sacrificial gift of His Son. There is no exception as long we choose Christ. So, this February 14, I may be single but not alone, unmarried but not unloved. In Jesus, the Lover of my soul, I have the greatest love of all.
With, through, and in Christ, we are all loved this February 14 and every day.