And the winner of the worst Valentine’s Day goes to…
Valentine’s Day is a bad day for a lot of people. It is a reminder that you are alone, or a race to meet someone/society’s expectations. Many end up disappointed. For some, it’s simply a painful reminder of loved ones who are gone.
This post isn’t meant to make any statements about Valentine’s Day. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to feel. I have had my share of depressing Valentine’s Days. I’ve been alone and let myself feel lonely, and I’ve been in a relationship with someone who would rather fight than celebrate love. My current feelings come from the perspective of an obnoxiously happy married person, so I’ll keep them to myself.
Our church has a ministry serving Atlanta’s homeless. One of the many things they do is serve chili at a shelter for women and children every Tuesday night. I started helping in November – not because I’m such a giving person or because I love homeless people. I did it because I need purpose in my life. I need a reason to leave my apartment occasionally.
They ask us to sign up for two Tuesdays a month, and one of mine this month happened to be Valentine’s Day. Again, I didn’t pick this night because of any good part of me. I picked it because I knew Jonathan would be on a trip, and I want to be free to do other things when he is home.
All day as I watched my news feed scroll, I read people’s comments on Valentine’s Day. There are those who send love out to all their friends, those who share what their significant other did or bought for them, and those who want nothing to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with any of these. To each their own.
As I got in the car to drive to the shelter, I turned on the heat in the car and couldn’t help but think how easily I had access to heat while the people I was going to see don’t even have homes. Next I wondered how we can complain about not having a date/not getting a gift/not getting the perfect gift (Not picking on anyone. I’ve been there) when these people have nothing?
At the shelter, I recognized a lady who has been there ever since my first visit. Because it’s supposed to be transitional, there aren’t beds. We have to be cleared out by eight so they can put the sleeping mats down on the floor. Over a hundred women and children sleep and eat in one big room.
Tonight we served a lady who had a thirteen-day-old baby and another who had a two year old and was due any day. I can’t imagine what it must be like. At 7 months, I have a hard time getting comfortable in our cushy bed – I can’t imagine sleeping on a mat. I can’t imagine trying to care for a newborn in a shelter. My heart breaks for these ladies and their children.
And though I’m not a Valentine’s Day hater this year, I still needed the reality check. I can’t fix these ladies’ lives. I can’t even fix the lives of my lonely loved ones. But I can take this opportunity to correct my perspective. To realize where my complaints fall in the big scheme of things, and to be reminded that whichever way I turn and whatever calamities should come my way, I am surrounded by people who love me. That right there is reason enough to be happy year round.