by Sonia C. Solomonson
February, with Valentine’s Day set smack in the middle of it, is a good time to think about what it means to love yourself.
Did those words make you cringe just a little? Perhaps you grew up believing that self-love was selfish and narcissistic—that your life is about loving God and others, not yourself. We are generally clear on the first command in Mark 12:30–31 about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s that troublesome second part: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Somehow we put a period after “neighbor.” Wrong.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Here’s how Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “as”: “to the same degree or extent; equally….” That little word matters.
It can make a difference in how we live. Especially to a single woman spending yet another Valentine’s Day without a date. How might that look?
What if we spent Valentine’s Day celebrating who we are, who God created us to be? What if we made that day, or the month of February, a time to reflect on that? In reality February 14 is a day made for retailers and the creators of greeting cards. Think of all the cards, flowers, candy, lingerie, jewelry, and other things sold that day—to say nothing of the expensive dinners. What if we saw it, instead, as a time of celebrating love in all its forms? A time to acknowledge that we’re lovable?
Living with open hearts
No matter whether we’re partnered or single, we have people in our lives whom we love and who love us. Perhaps we can focus on all those relationships rather than on those we don’t have. We can remember, too, that we are God’s beloved. One of my favorite Bible passages comes from Isaiah 43. Verse 1b says, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” And verse 4 reminds us, “… you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”
But, you may say, I want a flesh-and-blood relationship—a primary relationship. I completely understand that need. Just remember that it all begins with God’s outrageous love for us. That love enables us to love and accept ourselves—and then our hearts are ready to love others.
Who you are isn’t dependent upon any relationship but the one you have with God. You are lovable in or out of a primary relationship. You are whole, complete, and beloved because of who and what you are—a beloved child of God. We no longer need to buy into the old message that we’re only half a person and need to find our other half. God created us good—and whole.
I have a friend who often reminds me, “Sonia, don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outsides.” Ah, yes. It’s easy to look at those who are in a couple and think they are living in pure bliss. They can’t possibly ever be miserable. Not necessarily. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. All singles aren’t miserable nor are all coupled people happy. No group has the corner on either misery or happiness.
Being a friend
Explode the myth, too, that aloneness equates with loneliness. People in troubled significant relationships often know a loneliness that far exceeds anything we experience when living alone. And all people, whether partnered or single, feel lonely from time to time. When we’re lonely we have lots of options. We can call any of our friends, go out into a crowd, go for a walk, listen to see what the loneliness might be telling us or just feel it and move on.
As Mark Twain said, “The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.” Start being a friend to yourself. Get comfortable loving and caring for yourself.
Here are some ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day
Enjoy a meal in good company. Buy a bunch of your favorite flowers, set out your nicest dishes, light the candles, cook your favorite meal or get that take-out you enjoy so much, put on some great music and enjoy a meal in good company—your own! Give thanks and then savor the flavors, the taste, the textures. Think about what a gift that food is (God meant food for our delight), where it was grown, who grew it, and what it took to reach your table.
Watch a movie you really enjoy or one you’ve wanted to see. Better yet, take the day off work and have a movie marathon of several of your favorites.
Create Valentine’s Day baskets or gifts or cards for people in your life who are having a rough time right now. You’ll find true joy in making someone else happy.
Surprise people you meet with some random acts of kindness. Pay for someone else’s coffee at Starbuck’s or offer to run an errand for a homebound neighbor.
Spend a wellness day taking care of you. Take the day off work as a wellness day and treat yourself to something special at a nearby spa. This is a great time to pamper yourself and celebrate you.
Have a gathering with your other single friends. Do you have other friends who are single? Why not get together for an evening of fun, whatever that might be for you? Games, food, movies, giving each other manicures and pedicures, whatever floats your boat.
Volunteer somewhere. So many opportunities exist for volunteer work. You’ll benefit as much as those you’re serving.
Do something that completely relaxes you. Yoga? A good soak in the tub with bubbles, candles, music, and a glass of wine? A massage? Relax and let yourself feel loved and cared for.
Send flowers anonymously to someone who could use a boost. It will make you happy too.
Write it down. If you keep a journal, reflect on all the positives of your current life. Rejoice in the freedoms that your single life gives you right now.
Send a love note. Write yourself a love note: List all the wonderful assets and blessings God gave you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, you amazing woman!
Sonia C. Solomonson is a freelance writer and editor, and she’s a life coach with Way2Grow Coaching in Streamwood, Ill.
This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Cafe.