When I went through my divorce, Valentine’s Day was one of the most dreaded times of the year. I hated it. The endless scenarios of people in love, frolicking on sun baked beaches, or in some other romantic setting, confirmed to me that I was an ugly failure. It wasn’t the truth but at the time I felt like a rejected loser who couldn’t keep a husband.

The engagement ring commercials were the worst. Lovers destined to a life of bliss, pledging eternal love. And the two carat emerald-cut diamond would somehow make it all delightfully perfect. My cynical tongue would hiss, “Yeah, someone made that vow to me once too. Don’t believe it!”

After several years of divorce recovery ministry and time spent with the Lord instead of listening to the media, I have discovered better ways for single people to cope with the apprehension of the looming February date.

I’m not talking about an unrealistic “just don’t think about it” mentality pretending the day doesn’t evoke nostalgia or a longing to have someone special. We were created for companionship, this does not astonish or offend God.

Instead of focusing on what is missing, I suggest allowing the yearnings of the day to draw us toward God, and ask Him to divulge the desires of your heart. Be aware! When we truly look to Him, He may use this season to reveal where our hearts need further healing. The Creator of our hearts is the only one who understands where we may have been severely damaged by previous relationships, a painful childhood, low self worth, or numerous other issues. Because of His great love and compassion for us, Jesus grasps the depth of the injury. If we surrender to his tender touch, He will patiently heal each wound. And the result will be a healthy, healed heart that is ready for romance.

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So how do we keep Valentine’s Day from becoming an emotional meltdown during this healing process? I’ve listed some practical ways to cope and even thrive on February 14th. (They work for Mother’s or Father’s Day too.)

  • Don’t hibernate or wait until the day before to make a plan. Force yourself to be with other people, even if only briefly.
  • Connect with a support group at church. They often have fun activities planned
  • Develop a coping strategy. Review whom to call or where to go if the stress or pain becomes too severe.
  • If your child is with the other parent drop off a valentine, or small gift.
  • Create new, meaningful traditions. Handmade heart-shaped decorations, pizza, cakes or cookies go over great with kids. I know parents that began these traditions when the kids were small and their now adult children still look forward to them
  • Take those creations to people who are alone such as: an exchange student, a detention home, a jail or prison, a residence for pregnant girls, an elderly friend, a homebound person, or a shelter.
  • Help your child make a valentine for your ex-spouse or former in-laws. This communicates to the child your permission to love the other family and it greatly reduces fear and tension.
  • Take notice of a married friend who may be discouraged or rejected. Remember, some of the loneliest people on the planet are married. While others are receiving cards, gifts, and flowers, this day may be a reminder of a spouse who is thoughtless or unloving.
  • Try out a new “family focused” restaurant with other parents. Avoid the ones that cater to couples or may have romantic overtones that night.
  • Have a potluck supper with each person bringing a favorite chocolate treat.
  • Do something completely different. Go roller-skating, skiing, hiking, to the mountains or to the beach.
  • Send valentines or flowers to someone who has comforted and loved you.
  • Write a poem or a journal entry listing the things for which you are grateful.
  • Treat yourself to a massage, manicure, or pedicure.
  • Volunteer to work a concession stand to raise missions money, take kids to a movie, repaint or wallpaper the church nursery,
  • Immerse your family in assembling a model airplane, a Lego adventure, or a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Get out the hammer and build something.
  • Treat yourself to cozy bed linens or a new nightgown in a magnificent color.
  • Try a new pillow or neck exercises. They work wonders for tension.
  • Make yourself a warm comforting drink such as hot cocoa, chai or herbal tea.
  • Construct an old train set
  • Invite friends over for dinner and use the good linens and china.
  • Attend a hockey or basketball game, or participate in one.
  • Get enough sunshine. Winter’s shorter daylight hours can take their toll on the emotions. If you work where there are few windows, take a walk during lunch or on your break.
  • Exercise. It produces natural stress reducers, and it’s a great way to meet new people. Many gyms have childcare available.
  • Buy yourself a present. However, you’ll need to be careful if you have a tendency to numb your pain by spending money.
  • Calligraphy your favorite Bible verse, or try your hand at drawing or sculpting.
  • If you’re feeling suicidal, seek help immediately. The phone number of your counselor, pastor, close friend, or hotline should be taped to your phone. Don’t minimize the effect this day can have on your mental state.
  • Don’t anesthetize your loneliness with drugs or alcohol. These chemicals induce depression that leads to a greater sense of isolation.
  • Avoid bars or singles joints. They will produce a temptation to use sex as a way to numb the pain or ease the isolation.
  • Tuck away photographs or items that will trigger melancholy.
  • Stay away from movies that focus on weddings, people falling in love, sexuality, adultery, or emotionally wounded children. Seek films that are funny with a lighthearted plot.
  • Steer clear of music, fragrances, or foods that arouse depressing memories.
  • Avoid organizing an event at work unless the majority of co-workers are single also.
  • Print out and memorize a Bible verse that proves you are deeply loved and not alone. Such as: Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah: 43:1, Isaiah 43:4a, Psalm 91, John 14:8, Romans 8:15, Philippians 4:6-8, 1 Peter 5:7


I pray these suggestions help make your Valentine’s Day brighter. After all, any day with chocolate as its focus is something to smile about.

Copyright © 2007 Laura Petherbridge, Used with permission.

Read more from Laura at www.Laurapetherbridge.com