“Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up . . . Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9 (TEV)
Blah. Stinky ol’ stupid Valentine’s Day is this week. Darn it.
I was all set to go into this day the way I have on other Valentine’s Days where I’ve found myself single: with a heart full of dread and disgust that the stupid day even has to exist. But this year – today actually – something changed.
For the sixth time (yes, SIXTH), I have started the book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Some of you may have heard of it. It’s set up in forty chapters and the ‘goal’ is to read the book in 40 days, one chapter per day. (The reasoning is that so many notable things took place in the Bible in a 40-day time span so there must be something meaningful to that block of time.) You’re supposed to sign the book in the beginning, with the date, as your ‘promise’ to yourself to devote the next 40 days to reading a chapter a day and discovering what your ‘purpose’ is in life as set out in the Bible. Now, I’m not the most deeply religious person in the world, mind you. But for some reason, this book has always intrigued me. Not that I have the foggiest idea what’s in the dang thing – since I’ve never made it past day 10 or so. But, as I mentioned before, I just added my John Hancock for February 12, 2013 as Promise #6 (following my other promises dating all the way back to September 3, 2009) that I will, again, give it a go.
I opened it this morning, and the first thing I see is the verse from Ecclesiastes that I referenced at the beginning of this blog. “Two are better off than one…” etc. My thoughts immediately go to “Great! Here I am trying to learn more about God and try to get my crap together, and even He decides to remind me I’m alone.” There’s no escape. But then, no sooner did that grumpy thought enter my mind, than this replacement thought took over:
“You are NOT alone. In fact, you may be less alone than you ever have been.”
Now, again, I’m not deeply religious. I kind of wish I was. I admire the ones who are. But the fact is, I’m just not. But that thought entered my head just like someone was standing in front of me and saying it to me. And the more I let it sink in, the more I realized how much truth there is to it. In the past four weeks since my relationship ended, I have experienced more selfless love, kindness, and even some forgiveness towards me than I can remember ever receiving. I was a mess, I’m the first to admit it. But the people who love me – the ones who really love me – just calmly stood by and waited for the storm to pass. They offered their time, their shoulders, their thoughts and prayers – and even in one friend’s case, her home – to me. They took me in and wrapped me up in a kindness that I’m not sure I deserved. I was a self-pitying fool. I couldn’t see past my own pain and anger and sadness to look around and realize that I was so deeply loved. Maybe not by that one particular person – but by so, SO many others.
Aren’t we such silly creatures? We can be surrounded by so much goodness and kindness and yet, we let the negative thoughts of one silly person cloud out all of that. But here’s the thing. The fog does lift. It does. And when it does, unlike what you’re probably expecting and imagining, you’re not standing there all alone. As the smoke clears, the things you start to see are the smiling faces of friends and family who love you, flaws and all. They’ve been there all along – you just couldn’t see them through the pain. But they’re there. They were there before, they were there during, and now, they’ll be there after. And they’ll even be there the next time around. (Which I shudder to think about…Ugh!)
So, back to the point. Valentine’s Day. This year, Valentine’s Day is not about romance for me. It’s about what it’s probably supposed to be about anyway – LOVE. Pure, true, deep, unending love. The lasting kind. The kind I have felt pouring out from my friends, my family, my kids, and even virtual strangers during the past few weeks. The kind that I am going to do my best to more fully notice and appreciate from this day forward.
And that is a promise to myself that I actually intend to keep. (Along with the one to devote the next 40 days to that book, of course…) 😉
Ya know, two really are better than one.
Happy Valentine’s Day.