I Hate Valentine's Day

I Hate Valentine’s Day
Love & War part 1: He Said
by John Eldredge

“My soul finds rest in God alone…”
(Psalm 62:1)


This week's devotional is from Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge.

I hate Valentine’s Day. There, I said it.

Most of the guys reading this just thought, “Yes! I can’t believe he said that.”

Most of the women just thought, “What a jerk! I can’t believe he said that.”

But it’s true. I hate Valentine’s Day. Stasi loves it; it’s one of her favorite holidays. (God, what are you thinking?!) I hate being told, “Today, you will be romantic. Today, you will be amazing. Today, you will ‘Get It All Right.’ And tonight, you will arrange for one of the most romantic evenings you two will have this year. Tonight, sex will be on a level with the Hallelujah chorus. Hollywood will have wished they had filmed this day.

Who wants to live under that kind of pressure?

The rule of human nature seems to be this: The harder you push, the more the heart flees. The more we demand the heart show up, the more it disappears. We may try to Get It All Right, out of fear or guilt (like most guys on Valentine’s Day), or maybe even out of a desire to be good. But that is not the same as loving.

So I find myself dreading the approach of Valentine’s Day. Can I pull it off? Will she be happy? And now we’ve got a culture crazed with the upgrade of everything. Dinner and a card used to be a home run. That sounds so blasé these days, like you barely even gave it a thought. Now you have got to make it an all day. We have blown this day way out of proportion. It has taken all the fun out of it.

And the truth is, women feel the pressure, too – the pressure to be beautiful, the pressure to have just the right earrings to go with the right dress, the pressure to have the perfect hair – to achieve “sexy” without tipping over into “skanky.” A woman feels the pressure to make all the right conversation, not to order too much at dinner, and certainly don’t eat it all. And a woman feels the sexual pressure coming – either to offer sex “because it’s Valentine’s Day” or because she wants to win her man.

Real romance doesn’t work like that.

Romance seems to happen not because you have turned your google-eyed attention to romance, but because the two of you are focused on other things – a beautiful fall day leads to a spontaneous walk in the woods. An evening out “just because” becomes lovely after the two of you stumble on a great little restaurant.

Romance requires free hearts.

Pressure, on the other hand, kills everything it touches.

I don’t think most of us have any idea how much pressure we bring to our marriages.

There is the pressure one of you feels from the other “to be happy.” Usually because somebody’s childhood wasn’t all that happy and they can’t bear the threat of unhappiness in the marriage, or because we deeply believe that If you’re not happy it’s because of me. The message comes across loud and clear: “Do not be unhappy.” The spouse feels the unnamed pressure and comes to resent it.

Christian couples feel the added pressure to have a model marriage, to be a “witness” to our families and neighbors. Therefore nothing can ever be wrong. We’ve got to present a good face to the world. We feel the pressure to pray together, to have family devotions, and to love going to church. We feel the pressure to be “Christ-like” in our marriages – and since none of us are even close to that level of sainthood, we feel a lot of guilt and shame. But we feel compelled to hide all that because, after all, we are Christians.

There is the pressure – and how bizarre is this, really – that someone love you. Of course we want to be loved. Of course it hurts when we feel we are not loved, especially by the closest person in our life. But insisting that someone love you is like telling a fawn you have just seen slip into the woods to “Come Back Out,” or commanding a hummingbird to land on your finger and “Stay There.”

And then there is the Biggest Pressure Of All – the pressure we feel to make each other happy. After all, this marriage is supposed to make me happy. Right?

The human heart has an infinite capacity for happiness and an unending need for love, because it was created for an infinite God who is unending love. The desperate turn is when we bring the aching abyss of our hearts to one another with the hope, the plea, “Make me happy. Fill this ache.” And often out of love we do try to make one another happy, and then wonder why it never lasts.

It can’t be done. You will kill yourself trying.

We are broken people, with a famished craving in our hearts. We are fallen, all of us. It happened so early in our story, back in the Garden of Eden, that most of us don’t even realize it happened. But the effects of the Fall are something we live with every day.

Every woman now has an insatiable need for relationship, one that can never be filled. It is an ache in her soul designed to drive her to God. She aches for intimacy, to be known, loved, and chosen. It also explains her deepest fear – abandonment.

Men face a different sort of emptiness. We are forever frustrated in our ability to conquer life (Genesis 3:17-18). A man aches for affirmation, for validation, to know that he has come through. This also explains his deepest fear – failure.

Now, take these fears, brokenness, and this famished craving, throw them together into the same house and lock the door. What ensues is the pain, disappointment, and confusion most people describe as their marriage. But what did you expect?

Of course you are disappointed; your spouse is disappointed, too. How can we possibly be enough for one another? Two broken cups cannot possibly fill one another. Happiness flows through us like water through a volleyball net.

Your unhappiness – and your spouse’s – means you both have a famished craving that only God can meet.

You have to have some place you can turn. For comfort. For understanding. For the healing of your brokenness. For love. To offer life, you must have life. And you can only get this from God.

Trying to sort your way through marriage without God in your life is like trying to be gracious when you are utterly sleep-deprived. At some point, you lose your ability to be kind; you lose all perspective.

We live in a great love story, set in the midst of war. The great and terrible clash between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness continues. They are fighting for the human heart.

Jesus is the hero of this love story and we are His Beloved. So the greatest gift you can give to your marriage is for you to develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ, where you are finding in God the life and love your soul so desperately needs.

This Week
Ask the Lord to show where you have put pressure on yourself and your spouse to be enough to satisfy the craving in your soul, then ask Him to meet you there so that you can know the rest that is found in Him alone.

“Lord, help me to have such a powerful relationship with you that I can give and receive love freely, without the pressure to be or need to demand from others that which only You can provide.”

Next week read part 2, "She Said," with Stasi Eldredge.

1 comment:

Crown of Beauty said...

I love this post, Charlotte. I agree with every word that John Eldredge wrote. He is and always will be one of my favorite authors. He is authentic and shares his heart openly.

My husband and I never succumbed to the pressure of Valentine's Day.

However, as I had written on another comment box, these are just my personal views, and I have no problem with people who want to celebrate the day.

Thanks again for posting this,


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