While this isn’t necessarily my first Valentine’s Day that I’ve spent alone, it’s the first Valentine’s Day where I’m on my own. I didn’t realize that this Hallmark holiday could expose so many raw edges in my heart.

This blog is directed to the brave woman who is alone on Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or single again. You know that epic battle that will be waged in the next 24 hours. Whether you’re fighting tears looking at happy couples on social media, standing strong against the old boyfriend who gives good hugs (but he is no good for you), or battling against hopelessness, I see you, brave friend. And for the first time in my adult life, I feel you, too. 

For the brave woman who is alone, Valentine’s Day brings up all of our questions and all of our insecurities. Will I always be alone? Should I have fought harder? Am I not pretty enough? Why her and not me? What did I do wrong? Brave friend, you don’t need to beat yourself up with those questions today. You’re already fighting through enough already. Be kind to yourself and remember the answers to those questions have absolutely, positively NOTHING to do with who God says that you are:

You are beautiful, valuable, precious and unique.

That is who you are, no matter what your feelings or the circumstances around your aloneness may be whispering to you.

Still, it’s hard to be alone on a holiday where romantic love is celebrated. To use the Christian-swear word: It sucks.

I woke up on February 1st with a sense of dread and a whole lot of anger toward Valentine’s Day. Even as I feel God’s lavish and unconditional love for me, I felt overwhelmed by the gaping aloneness. Then, I got angry at myself for not quickly rising above it in favor of walking on the air of “I don’t care.”  How could I still struggle even as I know that I’m a beloved daughter of God with beautiful girls, a loving family, wonderful friends, and a fulfilling career? 

Perhaps, brave single friend you’ve already discovered what I’m learning to accept: Even with all of the love in my life, that doesn’t cancel out the pain of the love that’s been lost. Being alone doesn’t make me broken, it does break my heart. 

So, to my brave, single gal friends who are fighting against heartache and hopelessness, I stand with you today. I want to tell you that you are brave and to keep fighting, even if you’re angry that the aching tears of loneliness are still rolling down your face. As I’ve said before, you can cry and fight at the same time! To my single friends who are happy in singleness, I’m cheering for you. And I’ve got a job for you: Can you be patient, cheerleader of hope for the hurting brave gals who aren’t quite there yet? 

To my married friends who are reading, I am celebrating your relationships. Our heartache doesn’t cancel out your happiness. There are all kinds of different heartaches in the world, so I’m not saying that being alone is more important than the cancer battles, infertility, financial strain, or anything else that you’re facing in your marriage. As one married for more than 25 years, I know that marriage is really hard. All I’m saying is that being single is a hard battle today and I want to acknowledge that publicly for single girlfriends who cannot.

In the same breath, married friends, please celebrate Valentine’s Day in the biggest, boldest ways! Post those smiling pictures, go out to dinner and make happy, loud love to your husbands! Trust me, I never, ever, ever, ever want you to experience the kind of heartache that some of your brave, single gal friends know. Just because this is a hard day for us doesn’t mean that we don’t want it to be a happy day for you! I absolutely do! All you need to do is listen to us in love today. A hug speaks better than a thousand words ever could.

Now, brave single friend, let’s grab hold of some real, lasting truth:

First, you are seen and loved. You’re loved with an ever lasting love from above. God’s love will never let you down, even though human love has.

Second, it’s not jealousy or envy to want to be loved. Nor is it wrong to want to cry or feel angry when you feel an electric surge in aloneness because you’re even more aware of the couple-love around you. Valentine’s Day is a hard day. But can I encourage you toward this: You can celebrate your couple-friends and cry over your aloneness at the same time. In fact, if you’re experiencing both of those emotions at the same time, that is actually a good and healthy thing.

Now, some action steps. Gals like us need a plan to get through Valentine’s Day. Here’s my plan below. If you’ve got some to add, share your suggestions in the comments below:

1. Cry it out — Just call me “Tears-R-Us.” I’m giving myself permission to cry as much as I need to. No apologies. This hurts and I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t.

2. Self-Care — I am treating myself like the precious, valuable, and beautiful woman that God says that I am. You should, too! I’ve already got a massage scheduled and I am choosing to celebrate myself with healthy choices that reflect self-love as well as God’s love for me.  I’ve got a list of 101 Self-Care ideas that you can download. Pick 10 on that list and treat yo’ self like the brave and beautiful woman that you are!

3. Love the ones you’re with! — Make Galentine’s Day a thing! Celebrate each other! Order takeout, light candles, and tell each other how brave and awesome they are. Make a vision board of what you dream about in life. You are brave, courageous, and awesome!

Another option: Every year, I throw a Valentine’s Day dinner for my kids. I’ve done it for close to 20 years. I decorate, buy little gifts, and make a special dinner. I want my girls to experience Valentine’s Day as a symbol of unconditional love that wasn’t attached to romantic love. Tomorrow night, I’m doing it again. When my oldest daughter went away to college, I mailed her a Valentine’s Day box.  

4. Write yourself a letter for Valentine’s Day 2020 — I’m writing myself a letter this year. I have no idea what next year will look like, but I want 2019 Me to let 2020 Me know just how awesome she is. That letter will include the truth about where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through. I will let her know what I’ve been celebrating and what I’m struggling with. I’ll tell her how I’m praying for her over the next year. Once I write and print the letter, I put it away and set a calendar reminder for next year, including the location of the letter!

5. Beware any guy who starts turning on the charm anytime between now and February 14…because he will disappear on February 15 — Not only should you avoid our ice cream friends, Ben & Jerry, but that old boyfriend who smells really nice, or the guy at the bar who looks like your last chance option. Brave friend, you should never settle for less than God’s best, especially on Valentine’s Day. 

TALK BACK TIME: What’s the hardest part about Valentine’s Day for you? What do you wish that married people knew about what it was like to be single on Valentine’s Day?

 (P.S…I know that some of you are trying to read between the lines about my current marital status. Yep, I’m leaving things ambiguous. It’s still hard and complicated. Thank you for your prayers. While I don’t know how God will answer our prayer, He’s been so gracious and good to me every step of this difficult journey.)