Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.
Stores are filled to the brim with teddy bears, giant hearts made of chocolate, and cheesy greeting cards. As I perused the pink and red Valentine’s aisle at Walgreens yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of the #metoo movement. Women (and men) who have experienced trauma and abuse are rising up to bravely share their stories.
Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day can provoke a myriad of painful feelings and memories for those who have been abused or lost a loved one.
What if we take February 14 as an opportunity to recognize the pain of those who have been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused? What if we see it as an opportunity to serve our hurting sisters and brothers? This doesn’t mean you need to boycott Valentine’s Day, but it might mean inviting a recent widow to dinner with you and your spouse. It might mean extending sacrificial support, sending flowers to a friend going through a divorce, or volunteering at a ministry aiding victims of domestic violence.
It might also look like taking intentional time to pray.
Pray for people who are living in an unsafe relationship.
In the U.S., nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every second. That’s more than 10 million people per year. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Pray for victims of sexual abuse.
One in three women and about one in six men have been sexually abused in their lifetime. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey)
Pray for men and women who have lost a loved one.
Whether through death, divorce, or estrangement, losing a loved one is deeply wounding .
Pray for those who struggle with loneliness.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 depicts a picture of radical love:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth (NRSV).
Valentine’s Day reminds us to show gratitude and love towards important people in our lives. This is a perfect opportunity to go beyond your normal plans and reach out to someone who is hurting or lonely.
Write a note. Buy a coffee. Send a flower bouquet. Make a call. Pray a prayer. Bake a cookie.
In a world that is mourning to the core, may we spread God’s gentle healing through acts of thoughtfulness, both big and small. These acts of kindness will not fix the pain, but they will remind a friend that there is someone who cares.