No Flowers for Valentine’s Day

[Note From Indestructible Relationship Author Kimberly Pryor – You will love this true Valentine’s Day story! And it has a beautiful lesson for couples and singles alike—that it’s important for you to let your romantic partner, date or spouse love you in his or her own way.

The friend Renee refers to in the article is me—but I no longer believe that men are scum like I did in my 20s. That belief was a result of my not understanding men as much as I do now. Men and women are all in this together and men get their heart broken just as much as women do.]

By Renee Ballenger

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was never a huge deal for me.  Of course, I remember in grade school exchanging Valentine cards with classmates while we gobbled those little candy hearts, all of us innocently giggling at the romantic, rather suggestive messages on each, like “Kiss Me” or simply “Yes.”

In high school, my boyfriend had flowers delivered to me, and I to him, while class was in session, so all our friends, and jealous non-friends as well, could see an additional public demonstration of our affinity for one another.

But when I became a young adult, dating a variety of forms of men, I found myself searching for the “one” who could bring some meaning, for me, to Valentine’s Day.  Instead, however, it seemed my experiences, more peculiar than not, only brought on “a whole new meaning” to the holiday. In fact, they inspired a whole new name for the 14th day of February. I and my co-worker, also a young woman cautiously playing the dating game, justifiably re-christened cupid’s celebration, “Men Are Scum Day,” and chose to protest the entire pomp-and-circumstance by not decorating our office with paper hearts and doilies!

Nevertheless, I quietly maintained my own idea, and hope, of what a true valentine would be for me.  He would be my partner for this-thing-called-life. He would know me better than anyone else—sometimes maybe even better than I. He would be the person I would feel comfortable leaving as my proxy, to answer for me in my absence, assured of what my responses and opinions would be. He would often have similar, if not the same thought as I—that “finish my sentences for me” thing.  And although I’d always thought it a corny phrase, I guess, in brief, he would be my soul mate.

Still, even after my female friend and I moved to different workplaces, we made sure to call or write on February 14 to wish each other a “Happy Men Are Scum Day!”

Eventually my prayers were literally answered, and my search ended when I met and married my husband Danny. He is, indeed, the king of my heart, but guess what holiday was never, and is not a huge deal for him?  You guessed it, Men Are Scum—oops, I mean—Valentine’s Day.  

Danny requires big, red reminders on the calendar of the upcoming event.  And, then, instead of asking a sister or another female for gift suggestions, he still makes the common, horrific mistake committed only by males:  he asks me, “Honey, what do you want me to get you for Valentine’s Day?”

On Valentine’s Day of our sixth year of marriage, I awoke, not expecting, nor really wanting any manifestations from Danny acknowledging the holiday or its intent. This particular year, February 14 fell on a Sunday, and as I readied myself for church, I couldn’t help noticing, again, in our large, closet mirrors, my post-partum figure.  Our youngest child was eight months old at the time, and I was overweight.  OK, who am I
kidding?  Years later, I’m still not near my ideal weight!  

In that moment of disappointment with my figure, my husband walked in the room. I had on a new dress—a spring fashion—that actually made me look a bit slimmer. My hair and make-up were done.  As I stretched on the second leg of my stockings, my husband suddenly stopped, staring at me with a tender, but intense expression, as if he was seeing me for the first time.  

Before I could ask what was wrong, he spoke with a sincere wonder in his voice.  He said, “Oh honey, you are so beautiful!”  

I dropped my arms, as if in surrender, giving up my most recent thoughts about my appearance.  I said sincerely, “Thank you, honey.”  Then I thought to myself, You know someone loves you when you can feel it across the room.

After our church service, Danny and I attended separate Sunday school classes. While in my class, I came across one paragraph within a lesson that particularly touched me. It spoke about how, man, with his limited intelligence, is not able to comprehend, at least in this life, the full magnitude of God and His plan, and how, therefore, we should not obsess or frustrate over what we don’t or cannot know, but rather achieve three other accomplishments: seek to further develop oneself in light of the spiritual precepts we do know and understand; live the Christ-like life the Father urges us to live; and rejoice in our knowledge and ability to follow through on the Lord’s teachings.

I thought about the many deep discussions Danny and I had had on this broad subject.  Intending to later share this passage and how it affected me, with Danny, I made note of the page number.

When church was over and our family was walking out to the car, Danny said to me, “We had this great lesson in my Sunday school class today that I wanted to share with you.”

I responded without much thought, “Oh, yea?”

“Yea. It was from our doctrinal handbook. I think it was a paragraph on page 31.”
    
I took in a quick breath, and thought to myself, “Oh my goodness! Wow! That’s the very same page that my favorite passage was on.”  Then Danny began to quote some of the phrases from the section, the exact ones that so inspired me.

“When I read those words,” Danny said, “I instantly thought of you, Renee. I know how you feel about this subject, so I thought you might enjoy reading it.”

That night in bed, I said to Danny, “Thank you for my Valentine’s Day present.”

He bowed his head and said, “I’m sorry, hun.  You know how I am.  I’m sorry I didn’t get you any flowers, or candy, or something.”

“Don’t be sorry,” I answered as I gently lifted his chin so his eyes would meet mine. He looked confused.  I explained, “Today you gave me the best Valentine’s Day presents I’ve ever received.”

“I did?” he questioned, looking even more bewildered.

“This morning, at the very moment I needed to hear it, you, spontaneously with voice full of emotion and a face full of sincerity, told me how beautiful I am to you.”

Danny began to protest the value I put on what he saw as a meager gift, but I stopped him and continued, “But the biggie was today at church when we both apparently were reading the same paragraph in separate rooms, and thinking the same thing.”  

Then looking at him more intently, I stated, “Danny, today you fulfilled yet another dream of mine. You’ve come to know me so well, in a relatively short time together.  When you read the lesson today, you had an awareness of how I would be moved by that one specific paragraph. You know my thoughts, my soul.”  I paused and concluded, “You know my heart, Valentine.”

Danny smiled, “Thank you, Renee. I love you.”  He reached over and turned off the light.  

In the first few moments of peaceful darkness he whispered, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

My friend continues searching faithfully for her true valentine. We still call each other every February 14 to offer our regular holiday greeting, but now, with an amendment.  She beams over the phone, “Happy Men-Are-Scum-Except-Danny Day!”

The Indestructible Relationship blog and book share the secrets of couples whose relationships last a lifetime. If you enjoy inspirational stories of hope and love, buy The Indestructible Relationship book at amazon.com or if you’re in the Northern Nevada or Lake Tahoe area stop by Sorensen’s Resort in Hope Valley where you can buy The Indestructible Relationship in the gift shop then devour a berry cobbler in the café.

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3 Responses to No Flowers for Valentine’s Day

  1. Kathy Dunn says:

    Very touching and entertaining story, it brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Andrea Marshall says:

    I have always been inspired by my friend. Her inner beauty, her faith, her strength, her compassion, and her ability to give to others without knowing it. This story shares something very important that a lot of couples are missing. Faith in God, communicating and actually talking to each other, but most clearly, listening with their heart. Thank you Renee, for sharing something so beautiful and inspiring.

  3. Rita C. Vaden says:

    Renee,

    As Andrea said thank you for sharing something so beautiful and inspiring.

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