Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

By Shewanda Riley

“Feb. 14th?   That’s just another day to me.”  “I hate Valentine’s Day at my job.   All the women get roses and I get nothing.”  “It’s basically another Christmas for women.”  These are just a few of the comments I’ve heard from men and women, single and married, over the years when I asked them if they had special plans for this year’s Valentine’s Day. I could understand their negative comments having been many years trying to prepare myself for not getting any flowers or candy for Valentine’s as I was single and unattached.  Quite frankly, it was discouraging and depressing.

But my perspective has changed over the years. I was blessed to have a wonderful father who always gave me and my sisters and my mom candy for Valentine’s Day. It was kind of sweet that my dad, never one to show much sentimental emotion, would be focused on getting candy hearts for us.  Mama always got the biggest one. Even when the grandkids came along, he made sure that had their own mini boxes.  So, I guess my memories of Valentine’s Day and the meaning of it go deeper than just getting “stuff” from someone else as a competition to see who loved who the most.

Even though we are on the other side of Valentine’s Day, it is important to keep this in mind:  It’s not enough to be showered with love on one day of the year.  We have to make an effort to love ourselves every day.   Just like we are intentional about showing love to others on Feb. 14th, we have to just as intentional in showing love to ourselves the rest of the year. It sounds cliché to say love yourself.  But it’s really as simple as that.    

Here is where it gets tricky:  how do you show love to yourself?  A friend of mine asked me this question recently and I didn’t have a clear answer.  When I responded that I bought myself something I wanted, he challenged me that was a nice way of treating myself but that it could not be seen as showing love.  He argued that showing love to myself should just be like how I showed love to others:  it had to be intentional and be something that no one else could do.  

After that conversation, I wondered how showing love to myself could be so complicated. Then it hit me that showing love was not about big things like a day at the spa but that it could be a combination of small things. These include sleeping in on my days off because I need rest or taking a break from social media to avoid comparing myself to unrealistic expectations.   

Mark 12:31 offers advice on how to do so when it says, “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  This means if we are kind to our neighbors, we need to take the time to be equally kind to ourselves.  (Hopefully) you would not curse out your neighbor so why would you say mean things to yourself like criticizing yourself with negative self-talk.

Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.