The last thing I would consider doing with an opening sentence of one of my blog posts is to reference a contemporary Christian song, the likes of which are played ad nauseum on KLOVE. Don’t get me wrong, contemporary Christian music, and radio stations like KLOVE and the HouseFM have been used by God in the lives of many people… just not really mine. But here I am, about to quote Francesca Battistelli, since her song came to mind when I thought of reasons why I will be the most content single on Valentine’s Day. So maybe God has been using contemporary Christian music for my benefit; regardless, I hope you’ll stick around for my thoughts.
“Free To Be Me.” That was it. That was the song. Some of the lyrics go as follows:
“Sometimes I believe that I can do anything
Yet other times I think
I’ve got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I’ve got all You seek, oh …
And on my own I’m so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me and You’re free to be You”
I get it. They’re cheesy. They’re cliche, but oftentimes things are cliche for a reason. In this case, the cliche that rings true for me and for you is the truth that when we have properly understood who we are in light of what God says about us, we, as singles and couples, can honestly and freely seek out who we are meant to be, or in Battistelli’s masterful lyrics, “I’m free to be me and you’re free to be you.”
But what does this have to do with singles and those in relationships on Valentine’s day?
As Valentine’s day approaches, most people, according to his or her current station in life, experience a growing sense of dread/anxiety that increases in intensity as Valentine’s day draws closer. Why? Because there is an outward/cultural expectation put on all kinds of people, whether in a relationship or not, to be something or to do something that they may not necessarily feel like doing. Or let me put it this way: Valentine’s day causes everyone to consider their position in life and forces them to do something about it. You’re single? Try to find a romantic relationship, or wish you were in one. You’re in a relationship? Do something nice for the other person, or wish you weren’t with the other person.
These are all outward forces, or forces exerted on an individual from outside of himself or herself, and outward forces pushing against what a person feels never seems to produce happiness or contentedness (at least in my own experience). Valentine’s Day, for many, is a day filled with anxiety, loneliness, and frustration, instead of a day filled with love for others. I think that’s kind of sad. But there’s a truth for Christians, I think, that can radically flip the script when it comes to Valentine’s Day expectations.
Here it is: As Christians, we are completely free because of what Jesus did on the cross. No seriously. Don’t underestimate that truth. It has radical implications for every area of our life, even on days like Valentine’s Day. Allow me to repeat it. We are free in every way because of Jesus’ trampling of sin and death at the cross and his subsequent resurrection. Did you know there’s absolutely nothing you can do to make Jesus love you more? There’s also nothing you can do to make him love you less, and that includes sinning. We have been set free from the law of sin and death. Or as Martin Luther King Jr. might say it, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!“
Now what does this wonderful truth have anything to do with my being the most content single on Valentine’s day, and what does this truth mean for you, dear reader?
For a long time, I believed that marriage was indeed a necessity for the Christian, that is to say, as a Christian, I needed to be married or actively seeking marriage in order to experience all that God had for me. So whenever Valentine’s Day would roll around, immense pressure, anxiety, and a discontented-ness would always build in my mind. But when I realized that God had so much in store for me than just marriage, I was able to be set free from cultural expectations, and set free toward something else, namely the full expression of who I am in who God is.
Because of this wondrous truth, I no longer feel the pressure to go and find a romantic relationship at this stage in my life, because that’s not what I need right now to be who I was made to be. In fact, while marriage is a wonderful institution used by God to sanctify those who commit to marriage, Jesus was never married and he fully and completely did what God called him to do on this earth.
And because Jesus fulfilled his mission on Earth, I am able to be absolutely content with singleness. On Valentine’s day, I will be reminded that I am exactly where God intends for me to be when it comes to relationships. And that’s why I will be the most content single on Valentine’s Day.
As a practical exercise, I would like to re-imagine Valentine’s day as a time for reflection on where we are in life, and an opportunity to thank God for putting us exactly where we need to be in order to become all that we were meant to be.
So you are in a relationship? Thank God for that! He is using the relationship, whether dating or marriage, to sanctify you, and you are absolutely free to do something special or nothing at all for your significant other. Remember, God will not love you any less for any action you do or do not commit, although your significant other may think otherwise! In fact, you are free to do something spectacular for him or her even though you don’t feel like it, because after all, you are free from being constrained by a lack of feelings!
So you’re single? Thank God for that! He is using this time in your life to sanctify you wholly and completely, and nobody else on planet Earth can do that, not even a spouse. Only God can sanctify. You are free to actively and wholeheartedly pursue romantic relationships, or to not even text that guy or girl back. Do you long for a spouse? Why? Do you really think that the best thing God could ever offer you in this life is a beautiful wife or a handsome husband? I believe that who God says we are in Christ Jesus is so much more than a mere relationship status.
To finish: I realize I’m saying a lot of “easy” truths that don’t always apply well to people’s individual situations. Maybe you do truly understand that singleness is not a curse, and really all you want is to share your life with someone, but for whatever reason, nothing is happening on the relationship front. Dear reader, I don’t know what your specific situation is, but I do know someone who does, and He is more than willing to give you good gifts if you ask for them. Just be aware that your idea of a good gift may not be His idea of a good gift.
If you are deathly afraid of being single for your whole life (as I once was, and still am to some extent), I would argue there’s a misunderstanding of the gospel in the center of your life. But don’t freak out that you are believing wrongly, because God is not going to love you any less for doing so. Once you can grasp onto the wonderful truth that God loves us regardless of what we do or what our current relationship status is, everything else seems to fade from view and lose it’s glitter. After all, it was never about me, or my relationship status. It’s about the God who has radically changed my life so that I truly can be content and I truly can be free to be me, even on a day like Valentine’s day.
Do you agree? Is there truly that much freedom found in Christ? Or am I forgetting to emphasize what Paul says about being a “slave to righteousness.”
As someone who may not believe in Jesus, what pressures do you feel on Valentine’s day? What pressures do you feel from the church? Do you feel genuinely free to express who you are?
As always, I’m down to talk about these things over some coffee, schedule permitting! If not, shoot me your thoughts via email or text message!
As a final side note, the background art for this post is Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life. In the portrait, on either side of the tree are two frieze panels, one entitled Expectation, the other Fulfillment. There’s a lot going on in this work, so I’ll leave the interpretation up to the observer. For a good picture of the work, and a decent interpretation, click here.