“Happy Valentines Day son!” – Letter to him when the time comes

brown steel letter b wall decor

Happy Valentines Day, son!

Yes, your dear old man can’t help but notice that February 14 is here again.

Since you’re now of age to date, I thought it’s high time I shared my Valentines Day experience with you, in hopes it’ll help you navigate the sea of love.

I remember well the stress I had as a college student when Valentine’s Day came around.

Before, I had been cushioned from its “impact”, being in an all-boys secondary school. That in itself was already bad enough. To add to it the pressure of “finding a Valentine” — buying flowers, chocolates, and presents?! That would get any teen with raging hormones to pop yet another pimple on a less than screen-idol-looking face!

Speaking of which, I was spared from the pressure in another significant way. 

Back then, no one would really look at me twice, not without a little smirk or stifled guffaw. I was gangly and clumsy, a poor dresser and lousy at shaving to boot. Even I had to agree when some friends nicknamed me Lao Fu Zi, thanks to the “two brush strokes” above my lips that pass for a sorry excuse of a moustache! 

I’ve come a long way since

concrete road between trees
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Back in those days, I was a socially-awkward teen; unsure of myself and how to behave around others (especially girls). I’m fine if it’s a brief tete-a-tete or friendly banter, but boyfriend material?

Forget it. 

Yet deep down, I really wanted to be someone special. For someone special.

After leaving school battered and bruised from one relationship fumble after another, I really wondered if love and marriage would ever come my way. The handful of amateurish attempts I made to date girls during Valentine’s Day had left me with what felt like permanent scars sustained in the Afghan battlefields!

As always, I began to search for answers in my favourite place: books. 

One book in particular — Josh McDowell’s “The Secret of Loving” — really helped shape my thinking with regards to a search for that significant other.

The book came to me when I was near my mid-20s and painfully aware that my youth was long gone, and “my marriage clock” was ticking away fast!

I learned from the author’s pursuit of a girl that in order to find that special someone who would love and value me, I first had to be a person worthy of that kind of love. 

To find someone worthy or be someone worthy?

anonymous loving couple hugging near blooming shrub
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Writer Elof Nelson once said in his 1967 book “Your Life Together”:

“Success in marriage is more than FINDING (emphasis mine) the right person. BEING the right person is even more important. I have found that young people I counsel with are looking for the perfect mate without being concerned about the person their mate is getting.”

I’m reminded too of that Old Testament love story between Jacob and Rachel. In the book of Genesis, I read about how Jacob slaved for seven years just to earn the right to marry Rachel.

Well 14 years actually, since her father swopped Rachel for Leah (her older sister) on Jacob’s wedding night!

Poor man had to slave another seven years to finally wed his true love.

But just think how Rachel must have felt, watching Jacob stay the course for that long just to win her hand in marriage. Any woman’s heart would have been long won over by the 14th month, let alone the 14th year!

This brings me to the key to finding true love as we mark yet another Valentines Day. 

For that, I would quote from McDowell’s book. 

In it, he spoke of a time at the University of Washington where a second-year student approached him to show his diary where he listed 14 qualities he was looking for in the woman he hoped to marry.

Instead of commenting on the list, Josh turned the tables around and asked if those qualities could be found in that student’s own life. He then went on to say: “It’s not so much finding the right person, but being the right person that counts in marriage. If you want a queen, you need to be a king.”

There it is again! Did you catch that? The key to searching for the right person is BEING the right person.

BE the right person this Valentines Day!

photo of woman carried by man
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Now don’t think for a minute I’m talking about earning someone’s love the way you earn wages at a job. True love isn’t a barter trade or a commercial transaction. 

I’m talking about the need to turn the lenses inwards to examine ourselves. What qualities do we have that make us a suitable mate for someone else? It’s one thing to list down the qualities that you desire in that someone special; it’s another when you look at that list and realise that you haven’t any of those qualities yourself!

When I finished the book, I recalled putting it down and resolving to work on myself first before I dared look outwards to see if there’s someone out there for me. 

That proved to be a very freeing decision for me. There was a certain calm and serenity to it too. I basically surrendered what I couldn’t control (who that “soul mate” was going to be), and focus instead on what I could control — becoming the person I desire as a worthy recipient of true love.

A year later, I met your mother. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Not saying of course that it will also take a year for you. It might take a month. Or (gasp!) 14 years, like it did for Jacob!

The real challenge is this: Are you willing to work on yourself while simultaneously surrendering control of the outcome?

If you are, then you’re good. Then the heady and often intoxicating rush of this annual (now highly commercial) event of Valentines Day will not be a stressful moment for you at all.

Alright, I hope this letter will inform how you view this event from now on.

Let me know if you need more pointers, ok?

Take care

With lots of love
Daddy Doofus

PS If you would still like to give something special for someone special on Valentines Day, there’s always your mom (*wink*)!

{Note to readers: A fuller version of this post was first published here}

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