It was an important Valentine’s Day, the first one after my first big heartbreak. I was afraid it would hurt like crazy, so a friend and I organized a dinner for our single friends. We hung out and we laughed and we said a big ol’ NO THANKS to the holiday. And I was genuinely okay. Happy, even.
After dinner, we went to Wal-Mart and this cute little teddy bear caught my eye. “I think I’ll buy it,” I said out loud, feeling like volume would make my words more certain. For the first time in months, my smile didn’t ache. Maybe . . . maybe my happiness could be in my hands. It was just a teddy bear, just a token, but I liked it. And as far as I could tell, no Prince Charming was going to sweep in and hand it to me. If I wanted it, I needed to get it.
My friend heard me and looked over at me. She cocked her head to the side, her tone dipped in pity. “Oh, Courtney. You’re breaking my heart. Don’t do that.”
“It’s just so sad, sweetie. You don’t buy your own Valentine’s Day stuff.”
I didn’t buy the teddy bear, but I bought the lie.
I’m not worth the investment until I’m loved.
I’m a tough cookie when it comes to being single. 89% of the time, I am genuinely okay with it. You won’t find me clamoring for attention, posting half-nakey selfies or throwing myself haphazardly into inboxes (I think the kids call it “sliding into the DMs”, which sounds gross to me). I am whole all by myself and I fought tooth and nail to get here.
But there are times when my heart is tender, when the remarks and jokes that don’t usually bother me reach a soft spot and sting like the dickens. There are times when a well-placed jab hits the right target and I spend the night staring at my ceiling, wondering if I’m doing all of this wrong.
You may not understand that. I hope you don’t. But I know there are some of you who do–who wince at the jokes before you laugh along, who pull yourselves together in the bathroom at the wedding receptions, who have learned to just smile and shrug when people grab your left hand and inspect your ring finger with obvious disappointment. (That happens to you, too, right?)
There are some of you who have your own memories of pity-soaked lies to contend with.
I wish you and I were sitting together on a front porch, facing each other in swings that swayed lazily in a nice summer breeze. I wish I could look you in the eye and smile gently as I told you this very crucial truth:
you’re worth the investment.
Somewhere in the beautiful and hard growth of the last few years, I’ve discovered that I am too old and too tired to deny myself any (good and moral) thing simply because I’m waiting for someone to love me first.
Life is happening right now. And I can waste it away, waiting on someone who may never show up, or I can glorify God in the wait and believe I’m worth the investment simply because I am His first and foremost.
I can hold the lonely and the lovely in the same hand. I’m able to acknowledge that being single at this age isn’t what I planned, but it’s not unkindness from God.
So buy the teddy bear or the flowers or the dinner. Whatever that thing is that you’ve told yourself you don’t deserve until someone else gives it to you, until someone else loves you. If you need a hype girl to tell you that you’re worth it, I’ve got you covered, boo.
You are single, but you are not unloved. There has not been a moment of your existence when your Heavenly Father looked at you and thought you weren’t worth His investment–the lifeblood of His own Son to guarantee an eternity spent in a love you could never earn. In a love you could never lose.