Monthly Archives: February 2016

What Impact Does Expectation Have on Valentine’s Day?



It is that time of year again. Everything is bathed in pink and red, and stores are lined with teddy bears, and foil-wrapped heart-shaped chocolates. Everywhere we turn there are reminders—commercials, ads on social media, people discussing their plans, and cupid decorations plastered on walls. As sweet as it all can seem, it also is a source of extreme distress and heartbreak for many. February always makes me cringe, because I know what primary concern clients will be calling about, and I witness the harsh emotional toll so many experience. Unfortunately, many people put a lot of stressful focus on the big heart day. They sometimes feel that not having a “valentine” reflects on their worth, and that no one loves them. They cry when they see commercials, and even sometimes take desperate harmful actions in hopes that they will be with someone (anyone) when that day lands. People often have unrealistic hopes of someone magically appearing for that day (exes, complicated situations resolving etc…). It is all just a natural response when people are lonely, and feel excluded on a day that they believe is about being loved. It is sad to see the destructive affect that this particular holiday has on people.

I have a secret. I have never had a “valentine”. No romantic v-day dates, no roses or chocolates…no declarations of love, or silly teddy bears wearing t-shirts. I think the closest that I came to it was a torn square of notebook paper in grade school from a “secret admir”. However, it really does not bother me. It did when I was younger, but I have gained a different perspective over the years. Some may say, “Well since you have never had it, you don’t understand why it is so important.” I can see some possibility in that, but I also think that looking at it from the outside perhaps reveals things others may overlook.

Firstly, it is a day. A single day. In particular, it is a day created by candy and card companies to push for sales. “You must buy your sweetheart candy and gifts on this date to prove your love.” Essentially, they were able to generate sales via creating the very expectations that also are so harmful. People anticipate attention, gifts, and romantic gestures. They see it as a way to prove, and validate not only that someone loves them, but some also see it as a means to prove to others how loved, and thus special they are (social media will light-up with young girls/ women wanting to show off their v-day prezzies and activities primarily for that reason). People feel pressed into gifting, and going to great measures, and are made to feel guilty if they do not. I have even experienced multiple incidences of young women in tearful rages because they felt what their boyfriends did do for them was not enough—sometimes out of concern that other people would not be impressed, or think that the man loves them enough. A lot of pressure is created on that single day, and the result is, that sometimes what is done, and given…is executed to fulfill the expectation, rather than truly being something driven by the heart.

Anyone can wine and dine for a day, gift sparkly trinkets, recite lovey sentiments…and essentially pull things from the typical Valentine’s day playbook. It can almost be like “play acting” a big show of love—staging things, and playing parts. Is it sweet? Can people truly do it out of love? Sure…but in reality, love is not about a single day. Additionally, it often is the unexpected gifts, and genuine small thoughtful acts that we value the most, and which reveal what someone truly feels for us. Thus, in a way… Valentine’s day is a little backwards. It is a big day of expectation, and performing…and though it may be fun, and romantic…in the end, it is still just a single day. It almost cheapens love, and makes it a farce of sorts due to the pressure to put on big displays coated in glitter.

Love does not need Valentine’s day to be celebrated, or proved. Love certainly does not need to be shown-off, or used to gain status and validation. Love is not exclusive to one day a year, nor does it exist in a box of chocolates, or kissy-selfies. True love exists every day. It is revealed the most when people do unexpected selfless acts of giving, and put the needs of others before their own without any expectation of anything in return, or as a means of creating material to exhibit to others. Love is tenderly caring for someone who is sick, even at the risk of getting sick yourself. Love is easing someone’s burdens….via helping them with tasks, and giving of time without complaint. Love is providing support, comfort, and holding hands when others are struggling. Love endures through hardships, losses, and dark times when people are broken, and unable to provide much themselves. Love does not give with the intent to guilt, or trap someone into giving, or loving. Love is revealed by those who remain loyal, without the need of big glittery displays, and constant idealistic attention and notions of love. Real love, is messy, because life is messy. However, when it is real, and strong, it can withstand the storms, and be found in the everyday thoughtful gestures and acts that demonstrate someone cares, and pays attention. So, anyone can “play at” love for a day (or even a short period), but only true love can last through every day, and beyond.

So, for myself? I do not feel sad on Valentine’s Day. I do not feel desperate to find a date, nor do I feel like I am missing-out on something special. I would rather experience genuine love…. someone who simply is there every day, and who is able to truly see me. I do not need (and certainly do not require) big stereotypical demonstrations of what card and jewelry companies say prove the existence of love. I would find more beauty in someone who just wants to share life with me—messy, broken bits and all. They do not need to shout from roof-tops, or buyout florist shops…..but rather just offer some cuddles and laughter. It comes down to what is truly important, and what actually creates love that sustains.

However, I am painfully aware that many people put great importance on Valentine’s Day. It especially is hard on those who are in the midst of, or have recently experienced break-ups (rubs salt into the wound). Even people who normally do not feel sad about being single, can discover that v-day creates a sudden, lonely awareness. I think perhaps, the word that many people are most afraid of is…. “alone”. We tend to fear it, dread it….and do anything to avoid it. We impatiently rush into relationships that do not fit us, and cling to people that even hurt us…. all because we fear that word. Thus, why the awareness that Valentine’s Day creates for people can be so devastating. In reality, we first have to love our own selves, in order to truly love, and be loved…. especially in healthy, authentic ways. Being able to be alone without fear, or intense need for someone else to fill and provide…is actually something crucial to gain.

So, for all those singles out there….celebrate your love of self! Treat yourself to something special, or do something that physically pampers, or makes you feel good about yourself. Love truly starts with us, so it is healthy to remember to give our own selves love…and V-day is a great day for that important reminder.

Additionally, Valentine’s day is not just about romantic love. Love can be felt, and shared with everyone—family members, children, friends, co-workers etc… So if you feel bummed that you are single, it may be helpful to shift the focus of the day to being about giving/ expressing love, rather than receiving. Bake cookies to hand-out, or invite a group of friends to a fun activity so that the day can be reclaimed as a fun day to create memories with friends. Additionally, consider those who you know have recently experienced break-ups, or who have expressed how difficult the day is for them. You can make a huge positive impact on someone by doing/ giving something that shows that you care about them….and it will be all the more special to them due to not being expected.

Love one Another. Love Yourself. Every day.

Ponderize: James 1:5-8




If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

At first, I was intending to put my focus on James 1:5-6, but I decided that really the message felt more complete and supported when the following two verses are included.

Life is confusing. We wade our way through complicated, and sometimes even heart breaking choices. We have to try to differentiate between what is essential, and what is not truly good for us. Additionally, the world often pushes us in directions that conflict with teachings, and it can be difficult to resist those kind of lures— especially when we see so many others “indulging”. Temptations, desires, weaknesses, fears……all are personal inner obstacles that can cloud our judgment, and make it difficult to see the truth in matters. So where do we turn? How do we find true answers that will turn us in the right direction? We pray. We ask our Father for guidance and wisdom.

Essentially, James  1:5 tells us that He is always there. No matter the circumstances, no matter what mistakes we have made. If we are in need of help and answers, we can always turn to Him. When we reach for it, ask for it….. that wisdom is available. For me, “liberally” gives the impression of something that will be given in great bounty, and that it is something limitless, and even eagerly waiting to be given to us—but that we have to seek it, and open ourselves to receive. “Upbraideth not” informs us that no matter what mistakes we have made, that guidance is still available to us. We will not be denied, or somehow cast away from His love and help. We will not be “condemned” or given a virtual cold shoulder. However, we do have to seek Him (and those precious answers), with an open heart and mind…..with pure faith and trust.

   In order to be open to receive, we have to be prepared to lay everything else aside. We have to be willing to lock-up personal desires, and what we hope the answer will be…. in order to truly trust, and accept what it is that we are given. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” If we waver, if we doubt, if we want to lean on our own limited view point, knowledge, fears, and temptations…..then we harm our own selves by creating our own barriers that block us from that knowledge. Basically, we cast ourselves adrift, and leave ourselves exposed to “the elements”(things, choices, people etc… that can harm us), because we will not be anchored in Him, and thus not have the guidance that can help plot-out a course for us that will steer us to the ultimate destination, and help us to avoid perils.

Imagine randomly jumping into our cars, and hoping we will end-up someplace good that will provide happiness, peace, and solutions…..but doing so without turning on the GPS. Sometimes we may think we have turned it on, but really we have the volume on low, and are blasting music that drowns it out (essentially allowing our own inner chatter, desires, and chaos to overrule/ drown out what we ourselves asked for, but are not truly willing to receive). Sometimes when we are blocked from hearing, He may even try to hammer through it and present us blatant answers via placing obstacles in the road, and blaring neon warning signs at every turn… attempts to help clear our vision, and open us to the knowledge that we desperately need. However, if we are not willing to see, hear, and trust…. we will just keep blindly driving willy-nilly on our own, and at the risk of creating hardships for ourselves that otherwise could have been prevented.

“For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”  It is a warning. If we do not trust, if we “waver” and lean in other directions, or if we put our faith in other sources (or let our desires, fears, and temptations dictate our choices)……then we should not expect to get true answers. In a way, it also may be explaining that if we “seek”, but do so without turning the volume on, and everything else down….. we are at risk of telling ourselves that the answers we want are spirit-led, when in reality it will be grasping for what we want the answers to be, and acting at our own risk and consequence……because it is not possible for it to be anything else under those kind of personal conditions. I think perhaps one of the reasons this was made clear, is because often people will make choices based on their own desires, but when it results in destruction….. they then blame, and feel like they were somehow deceived, or led astray by God, when in reality they had denied his help. It further hurts us (and our faith), when we are misguided in not only what leads to our choices, but also if we are unable to be honest with ourselves, and see what the true cause of our mistakes was.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

We cannot be made whole by tearing ourselves in two. We cannot have two masters. Essentially, sometimes we can end-up in situations where we are torn. We may want to be open to the spirit, to allow Heavenly Father to guide us, and to follow His plan for us. Our heart may know what is true, and we may even strongly believe in the gospel, and want to follow it…..but we also can become internally divided, and pulled in other directions, especially when we let our weaknesses and temptations cloud, and control us. Thus, why someone torn between two directions (“double minded”) essentially will be unstable in their actions and choices—it is the very nature of what results when a great contradiction is at play within someone. It causes a person to teeter, and shoot around like a pin-ball that is being slammed by opposing forces. It creates an inner battle. A person will flip-flop, and desperately try to find ways, justifications, excuses etc…. to make those two very opposing pieces fit, no matter how impossible. When we want, and do things that do not align with what we believe, and truly want deep down….. we tear our self in two. We create an inner injury….a rift. In order to live with that “rift”, we have to uphold dishonesty with our own selves in order to find a way to maintain both “masters”. We lie to ourselves, we lie to others, and we lie to Heavenly Father.

 Being double-minded is perhaps one of the most dangerous, damaging things that we can inflict on our own selves. In our effort to make the contrasting pieces fit, we may try to convince ourselves that what we are doing is something we have been guided by the spirit to do, or that somehow it will result in guiding us closer to Heavenly father. No matter how backwards our actions and desires are, we may try to tell ourselves that it all eventually will lead us to being true to our beliefs, and what we really want—because deep down, that is still what the deepest true desire and longing is. However, it just does not work that way. We cannot possibly be open to receive divine guidance when we are torn, and being dishonest. We cannot get to where we really want to be, if we move in the opposite direction.

In the end, we can only have one “master.” From what I have seen, there tends to be four stages in this kind of internal battle.

We debate. We stress. We feel the “chafe” of the contradiction when we want something that does not align with what we believe (and who we are/ want to be), and with what He wants for us. We likely are still able to at least partially see how things conflict, and are not right…..and maybe are even still open enough to get “nudges” from the spirit to try to help us see things more clearly. However, whether or not we follow those promptings determines if we are able to open ourselves, listen, and let go of what is creating the harmful conflict…… or if we progress to the next stage.

We Justify. We try to make things fit. We attempt to convince ourselves that the “wrong” is really right, or that the means will somehow be justified, and made right later. We blind ourselves to the things we do not want to see, and to the things that cannot be justified. We form disconnects within us in order to establish some kind of “peace” between the factions that are at war. If we do not look at what is wrong, then we can pretend that it is “right” and “good”. All of this completely blocks us from being open to the spirit. How can we claim to be open to, and even led by Heavenly father, when we cannot even be honest with our own selves? When we ignore our own inner alarm system that sounds off when we do things that do not align with our core self/ soul?

A “side” eventually has to win. If we continue to lie to ourselves, and make bad choices that lead us astray (all the while telling ourselves falsely that it is what He wants for us, or will somehow lead us to following His plan….), we bit by bit will hand ourselves over to the other side. We will blindly ease into the other direction, and it will eventually become “normalized”, and thus all the harder for us to discern when we are going astray. It will become easier and easier to move away from the shore, and to tell ourselves it is a good thing—all the more so because we are completely without any guidance. Eventually, we will find that we have reached the other shore, and can no-longer even see the original—that we have ended-up choosing the “other master”, no matter what guise or lies that we placed on it to ease our wrongful choices.

Final choice. Eventually we may become aware that our choices have been mistaken, and that we have become lost, and ended-up in the opposite place of where we had really wanted to be. We may be tempted to submit to it with a sense of defeat. “Well, this is where I am now, and I just have to stay here, and live with it…. no matter if I know that it is not right, and not what deep down I still really want”. We can become discouraged, and may even feel unworthy to turn back to Him after we have gone so far astray. We may also feel embarrassed, especially if we realize we had been telling ourselves that what we were doing was somehow guided by Him. It may seem easiest to just keep doing whatever it is that is hurting us, and trapping us on that new “shore”. Some people will give-up, and stay—no matter how much it chafes, or how much it limits them. They essentially trap their own self with their guilt. Sometimes they simply do not want to give-up the wrong thing (or things), that led them to that harmful destination to begin with. However, if a person is willing to let-go of what is wrong, and to truly open themselves up with trust……. well, then we circle back around to the initial verse. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

We can always turn things around, because His love, wisdom, and guidance is always there waiting for us. We simply need to ask, trust, and sincerely follow what it is that we receive/ are given. We need to make the choice to earnestly have faith, and to put other things aside. In doing so, we rely on him to provide us with what we truly need. We can be made whole again. We can move forward whole in spirit, heart, and mind, without the guilt, self-injury, and “chafing” that results when deep down we know that we are gaining something via doing what does not align with what He wants for us. It truly all comes down to our willingness to allow ourselves to be helped, and guided. He is always there for us. We are the ones who at times can become inconsistent, blinded, or blocked….. and I think that is an important thing to always consider, and remember.