A Note from Kelly King: Can we be honest? Valentine’s Day isn’t always the favorite holiday for many women. In fact, it can be a messy holiday. In her continuing series, “Ministering in the Messy,” Deb Douglas outlines ways you can minister to women who struggle with this holiday of love.
Valentine’s Day is a tough day. It is a hard day to be alone. There are women everywhere who are alone or in the midst of a messy life:
- Women who have been abandoned.
- Women who are single but not by choice.
- Women who desperately dream of a husband.
- Women who are grieving the loss of someone they have loved dearly.
- Women who find themselves in the midst of a messy marriage.
- Women in the midst of a messy divorce.
- Women who are deployed or whose husband is deployed.
- Women who are isolated by their health, their challenges, or their fears.
Valentine’s Day is a tough day for these women and others in similar situations. It is a messy day, and its messiness begins days before February 14th and may carry its sadness on into March. Ignoring Valentine’s Day only adds to the surrounding heartache and hurts. By avoiding the day, we heap more heartache on the brokenhearted.
What do we do?
- Be aware. Who is facing a messy Valentine’s Day this year?
- Be honest. When talking to a woman in a messy Valentine’s Day, it is tempting to give advice or try to empathize when her story is not our story. This comes across as insincere. Other flippant responses to the woman who is alone include:
- “I signed you up for a dating site…”
- “We’re having a match maker night here at church…”
- “Take advantage of being on your own. What I’d give for a night alone. “
- “If you would change your hair, attitude, weight, makeup, you would find Mr. Right in no time.”
- “Stop being so choosy.”
- Be real. A fake substitute for Valentine’s Day romance can fall flat and cause even more loneliness to women who are alone. Some women find such events insulting. Pray before stepping out to do a Valentine’s Day event.
- Be available. Listen. We do not know all the answers, but we can listen to broken hearts. Listening helps women feel valued.
- Be a servant. At times being a servant means putting our own desires aside in order to meet the needs of others. This means arranging our personal romance plans around plans for encouraging lonely hearts.
- Be sensitive. Not all women who are alone have the same story, the same needs, or the same challenges. A woman whose husband is deployed has different needs than a woman going through a divorce. And she will need a ministry different from a single woman who has never been married and is alone. Stay away from one-size-fits-most ministry.
- Be willing to show the love of God in practical ways. Involve women who are alone in making a difference in the lives of others. Find ways for women to serve on Valentine’s Day. When we serve others we are blessed and our hearts are filled with joy.
- Take silly Valentine’s Day cards to local senior assisted living centers.
- Serve a meal at a women’s shelter or homeless shelter. Think lasagna, salad, bread, and yummy “homemade” cakes.
- Host a Valentine’s Day party for foster children or children in homeless shelters. Play games, decorate heart-shaped cookies, and share what true love is—Jesus!
- Send care packages to deployed military individuals.
- Look for mission needs to fulfill.
- Be wise. Today, a woman in my church said, “Don’t give me the Jesus answer. I need you to be real with me.” I knew what she was saying. Often when we do not know what to say, we try to slap a Bible verse on a situation to make it all better. The wiser thing is to stop and pray, turning to the One who does hold the answers.
- Be prayerful. Consider partnering women alone with prayer warriors, especially those who are widowed or alone.
- Be real. Women who struggle with loneliness and messiness on Valentine’s Day are dealing with these same struggles every day.
- Be observant. There is a difference between sadness caused by a lonely Valentine’s Day and depression. Be bold in suggesting professional help if signs of depression are observed.
The excitement of childhood Valentine’s Days with sweetheart candies, chocolate, and cheesy cards put into our decorated Valentine’s box is long gone. Replacing those sweet memories is a challenge because it’s now a messy day in the lives of women who are grieving, alone, or hurting. Their Cinderella dreams have become nightmares. Life in this messy world can be lonely, but we can make a difference. Go out and make it a happier Valentine’s Day for the women you lead.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.