I have never liked Valentine’s Day. Not when I was single. Not now that I am married. To me, if you want to show someone you love them, including yourself, there is no reason to wait for a commercially driven fest like Valentine’s Day. You just do it.
When I was single, I did just that. My favourite kind of date was going out to eat alone. I would sit in a café or restaurant, even a food court, and people-watch for hours. There was a strange contentment in being out in the world, yet solo. (Perhaps it has something to do with being an introvert.)
There was a strange contentment in being out in the world, yet solo.
This may sound cheesy, but I remember having dates with Jesus when I was single. I would grab a couple of hot chocolates, find a table, put one in front of me and one across from me, and talk to Jesus. We’d talk about everything. When I finished my hot chocolate, I would grab the one across from me and finish that too.
Society still thinks of ‘dates’ as being between two romantically interested people. Well, I think it’s high time we reclaimed that word. A date can be with friends, with oneself, with Jesus, even with strangers. Hey, what’s stopping you from buying a meal for a stranger—especially one who might be in need?
I think it’s high time we reclaimed that word.
So here are my ideas for alternative dates—without a romantic partner on the scene:
Meet with friends. You can go out together, meet at someone’s house, or meet up online and chat. You can share good food, stories and tears. You can pray for one another. Hey, you can even indulge in sleepovers and pillow fights if the mood takes you.
Bless someone. Feeling the need for TLC? Someone else probably is too. Over the years, I’ve channelled my need for attention into showing attention to one of my single friends. I buy them flowers, send them chocolates, or write a simple message of encouragement on a card. In my experience, that kind of joy lingers long after Valentine’s Day is over.
That kind of joy lingers long after Valentine’s Day is over.
Fly solo. Is there something you have always wanted to do by yourself? Perhaps this is the year to challenge yourself. Whether it’s eating out, seeing a movie, going away for the weekend, skydiving or undertaking your first DIY project, trying something solo can be exhilarating. Sure, it can be nerve-wracking too. Perhaps that makes it all the more worthwhile.
Spend time with God. Boy, that sounds like a cliché. But it’s true. Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to have that conversation with God you’ve been avoiding, to pray for that family member or colleague at work, or listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to check out. Maybe you can just worship him, or share the silence together. Such times with God can be precious—in a completely non-Jesus-is-my-boyfriend kind of way.
Take up a cause. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer for a soup kitchen on Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’d like to help a homeless person. I once spent a day in the city, giving money to beggars on the street (in exchange for photos for an artistic project). You could look into that charity or child sponsorship you’ve had in mind. Looking after your neighbour and your neighbourhood is great way to turn the tables on our romanticised notion of love.
Looking after your neighbour is a great way to turn the tables on our romanticised notion of love.
Valentine’s Day can be depressing or rewarding, depending on your point of view. This Valentine’s Day, let’s spend our time and energy sharing our love, putting God at the centre of all we do.
It may not be romance, but it certainly is love.
Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day? How can you share your love with others, not necessarily in a romantic way? Is there anything God might be prompting you to do this year? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.