December 26th-shelves filled with Christmas products just the day before have been reduced to a single 50% off Clearance aisle. In their place, the newest assortment of red heart-shaped boxes, stuffed furry animals and oversized cards, the annual commercial tribute to Valentine’s Day. And although given almost two full months to select the perfect gift, most will wait until just days before, some out of true love and others mere obligation. The Valentine’s Day holiday is a thirteen billion dollar annual event (that’s $13,000,000,000.00). More than 180 million cards will be exchanged, 480 million roses and more chocolate than any of us need. Ironically, while it’s the best time for a man to buy that card once a year that says the things he can’t articulate, one study says 85%of these cards are actually purchased by women.
While many joke that the day was created by Hallmark, it’s romantic roots can be traced back to a 13th century poet named Chaucer who in essence wrote that all creation comes together in love and harmony, etc. etc. etc. Simply stated, it is a dedicated day each year that gives most an opportunity to freely express or reaffirm their love for their significant other, accompanied by many passed down traditions and gestures. In Europe for instance some still exchange Valentines Day keys that signify an invitation to unlock the heart of their lover. But sadly for just as many, this day only serves as a reminder that the locks to the hearts of their special love have been changed and their keys no longer work. A day that brings joy to those in love brings severe pain and isolation to those who bear the scars of broken hearts.
Statistics may not prove that suicide rates are higher on Valentine’s Day than on others but many studies support that depression brought on by broken relationships is a leading trigger for suicide attempts. When asked of those who survived such attempts, they responded that they didn’t necessarily want to die, they just simply had no reason to live. I can speak from past experience-there is no greater pain than to love someone with all your heart only to know they no longer love you in return. The feelings of loss, hopelessness and loneliness resulting from a severed relationship are no different than those feelings of mourning the sudden death of a loved one. All of us, if breathing, have experienced it at least once in our lives. The brave dare to love again, some more than a few times, but others shy away from the vulnerability necessary to love again for fear of the possibility of yet another broken heart already scarred by past loves and the pain associated with it that can bring even the strongest to their knees and turn their world upside down.
I wish I could offer words of healing or a fix-all solution for a quick recovery for those who feel the sting of rejection while witnessing others exchange their flowers and chocolates on this day of love. If I could I wouldn’t be writing a blog post but a multi-million copy best-seller. The pain of rejected love can be found in the earliest recorded writings in existence. It is a timeless tragedy that all will eventually suffer. Some may bring calamity upon their love due to their own indiscretions-some due to apathy or just being oblivious to symptoms of trouble, and others will simply be innocent victims of a heart gone astray. Whatever the reason, the euphoric feelings that many celebrate on Valentine’s Day are the daggers that re-wound broken hearts haunted by abandonment and rejection and lingering memories of past loves that play over in their minds like an old movie projector with no Off switch.
If there are words of hope to offer, they must be found in Holy scripture. I know that curling up with your Bible on a lonely night may seem to offer little in the way of comfort or companionship but there are words that can serve as a salve to help ease pain until such time as the heart can begin to recover. Here are but a few to consider;
Psalm 34:18; The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 147:3; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 73:26; My flesh and heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
1 Corinthians 13:7; …love endures all things
2 Corinthians 12:9; My grace is sufficient for you and my power made perfect in your weakness.
Lamentations 3:22; The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end.
“Til death do us part…”. Apparently some die more than once in their lifetime.
“For better of for worse…”. And some must be beyond “worse”.
Time is the universal healer of brokenness and Christ is the accelerator of the healing process. The feelings of loneliness felt by widows, divorcees and others on Valentine’s Day are natural and can’t be avoided without crawling into a hole and coming out when the stores start stocking for Easter. But there is no reason to feel totally unloved or uncared for. There is another simple verse that reminds us if we will take heed…
…cast all your cares on Him for He truly cares for you..