This article is part of the Open Letters series.
Dear Single Man or Woman,
It seems the Christmas decorations are not even completely packed away before every neighborhood card and gift shop has transformed itself into a sea of red, reminding us that February 14th is Valentine’s Day and that you—brave man or woman—best not forget that special man or woman in your life.
For all its glittering cards, heart-shaped boxes of candy, and red rose-based flower arrangements, Valentine’s Day confronts each of us with a basic question that speaks to the core of our existence as human beings: Does anyone in this massive, impersonal universe actually love me? It rocks our soul and penetrates the core of our being because it is a valid question, it is a critical question, and it is a deeply human question. It touches a nerve within us because deep down as human beings we know that we were made for more than ourselves, and we will never be satisfied alone by ourselves. At the apex of the creation account Scripture affirms that it is not good for the human being to be alone (Gen. 2:18). The existential question we face each day of our lives, but especially at Valentine’s Day, is this: Who is there that truly loves me just as I am? Not because of what I would be, could be, or should be; but just as I am—with a few warts, a few habits I don’t care to acknowledge, and one or two—or maybe even ten or twelve other shortcomings—that come to mind. Who loves me for just the person God created me to be, without qualification?
Our world gives us, as singles, one answer to this existential question: You, man or woman, better make something happen! You need to put your best foot forward and put yourself out there. You need to find the special someone who will be there for you, care for you, and love you unconditionally. You need to fix your hair (or get a hairpiece, gentlemen), update your wardrobe, take up a couple of new hobbies, and in general, just get yourself out into public view in the real world to make something happen. And today this process is facilitated even more readily via a myriad of online social media venues and dating websites to assist us in finding that special person ever more efficiently. So, anyone still single—still “alone” according to society’s standard—has only himself or herself to blame. And failure to take action means you run the fateful risk of going through life all alone—and even arriving at death’s door painfully alone.
But Scripture gives us another answer: You are completely valued and treasured just as you are because the Being running this massive universe is, in fact, a personal Being and he loves you wholly and completely. It is not conditioned on your fabulous talents, or your great body, or your bank account. No, he loves you just as he created you, and he invites you into a relationship with himself for all eternity. God not only loves you, but he willingly chose to pay the ultimate price to bring you into that relationship with him just as you are—with your warts, bad habits, and predilection for certain sins. This truth is not an afterthought or side-effect to running a busy and complicated universe. Your salvation is at the core of God’s very plan within the whole history of the created order.
Yes, you say, of course, God loves me. I get that. But God doesn’t understand just what it is like to be me and to go through life as a single adult. He doesn’t relate to a life without a meaningful, physically intimate experience with someone of the opposite sex. Or does he? Maybe God’s love is a love that fully knows what we are experiencing because God himself came down to earth and lived a life on earth as a single man without a wife or a physical child—a life likely devoid of any romantic encounters as Jesus’ affections were focused on the whole of humankind and their need for a relationship with him and his Father. But as Jesus was truly human, he did experience times of deep aloneness. He battled the devil alone in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). As a single adult having no place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20), he profoundly understood the realities of experiencing life as a single adult devoid of having the “special someone” to come home to every evening. Yet, Jesus did not live his life “alone” in isolating himself from people. He was constantly connected to community, whether it was the three, the twelve, the seventy, or in the crowds of disciples. Jesus was connected not just to his own physical family, but also to Peter’s family, as well as to a spiritual family of the twelve apostles he invested himself in.
The most important thing we need to do this Valentine’s Day is to commit ourselves to seek the love that truly satisfies.
The reality of the incarnation testifies to several important aspects of God’s love. First, God, through the earthly experience of Jesus, profoundly knows what it means to go through the human life as a single person without experiencing the love of a spouse or deep physical intimacy. Yet, the Scriptures affirm that Jesus was fully human in every way necessary (Heb. 2:17). Neither Jesus, nor any other human being who goes through life devoid of the affection of a spouse, is less than completely human. The Scriptures affirm that in Christ, we are all complete human beings (Col. 1:28), with or without that special someone. The incarnation also reminds us that the love of a human being is not the ultimate source of the all-satisfying love that we crave; but rather, it serves as the pointer to that ultimate self-satisfying love that is only found in God. The love of a husband for his wife that is so elegantly described in Ephesians 5:25-32 is an illustrative pointer toward a greater mystery—that of the love of Christ for his church. That is the love that truly satisfies each and every one of us as we experience it together in community with God and with one another!
The most important thing we need to do this Valentine’s Day is to commit ourselves to seek the love that truly satisfies. This is the love that loves us unconditionally, the love that fully satisfies every aspect of our souls, and the love that is eternally guaranteed and can never be lost. No human being is capable of providing such love. It is found only in the omnipotent God who invites us into an eternal relationship with him through the gospel. This is the love that God so much had for the world, for you and for me, that he gave his only begotten son that whoever of us would embrace his love and believe in him would share an eternity of experiencing that love with him (John 3:16). It is the power of this self-giving love that Paul describes in Romans 8 when he so boldly declares, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).”
My brother or sister, be encouraged! You are fully loved this Valentine’s Day by the only one who also fully knows you and receives you just as you are. And that’s a relationship of love that will never leave you nor forsake you—for it is a relationship of love for all eternity.
In his love,
Barry Danylak is the author of Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life.
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