Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

That is, if it is a happy Valentine’s. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re struggling in your marriage or relationship, or you’re with a frustratingly un-romantic and un-Valentines-y partner, or you’re not-so-happily single.

But guess what? Happy Valentine’s Day anyway! Guess why?

Because true love is not only romantic!

You may have seen Nicole’s awesome Galentine’s Post from last week. In it, she described the amazing package of Valentine’s gifts that she sent to me (which I received, and all of which I love and am so excited about). I cried when I saw that post, because she’s right – Valentine’s is a hard reminder of the not-so-fun elements of my singleness, so it means a lot to me when other people I love reach out to me then to remind me, as my amazing sister did, that I am loved and lovely.

Here I am loving the scarf, hat, earrings – and all the gifts Nicole got me!

Tonight, I’m going on a Valentine’s date – I’m going out to dinner with my best friend, giving her a gift and a ton of nerdy Valentine’s printed off the internet, and then we’re going to watch some more episodes of The Flash together. So yes, I’m single, and I’m still celebrating Valentine’s Day, because I have a lot of love in my life.

Wherever you’re at, whoever you love, I’d like you to take a minute this Valentine’s Day to think about the idea that true love isn’t only romantic.

Can I make my point a little clearer? Why thank you. Let me dust off and climb onto my soapbox…

I love love. I really do. I love people who are in love, and weddings, and good love stories, and romantic nonsense. Love is great. But here’s the thing: that’s all romantic love, and that’s awesome. But that’s not the only love out there, nor is it necessarily/always the greatest or strongest form of love.

I’m ready for rotten fruit to be flung now, but let me proceed.

Here’s the thing: I’m a happy 23-year-old single girl who has never had a boyfriend and has only been on a few “dates.” (Try not to be too shocked.) Most everyone in my family was married by the time they were my age, so yes, I’m feeling like the odd duck out. And yes, I very much want to be married eventually. But yes, I’m trying, with varying degrees of success, to wait on God’s plan and be content and find my purpose and satisfaction in Him.

So, here’s the thing. Sometimes, especially with reminders like Valentine’s Day, I do have single-person-pity-parties about never experiencing a long-term reciprocated romantic love. And sometimes I wonder if people pity me for never having experienced love.

But hold the phone. Never having experienced love? Are you kidding me? In my 23 years of life, I have loved truly and deeply and strongly, and I have been loved truly and deeply and strongly. You know why? Because true love is not only romantic. (Is my repetition helping you get the concept in your head?)

Where did we even get this concept of “true love”? True love is just love that is true…right? So who made it romantic? Fairy tales? Kind of, but not necessarily. (I mean, have you ever read any original fairy tales? But that’s a different soapbox for another day…) Personally, I’m going to point at The Princess Bride. “And wuv…twue wuv…will fowwow you…fowevah…” Er, maybe not. Most fingers would probably point at Disney, and maybe there’s some truth in that. After all, it did give us phrases like “true love’s kiss.” But if you’re a Disney fan like I am, you’ll notice how lately they’re steering away from that concept with stories like Frozen or Once Upon a Time that show that true love can be the love between family members or friends.

So let’s talk about friendship, because this is a big deal for me.

I’ve been blessed with a lot of people at various points in my life that I would call best friends and very close friends. But, if you’ve seen my social media at all, it’s probably not hard to see that I have one relationship that’s especially, well, special: my friendship with Marissa Petty. We’ve known each other all our lives. We are almost opposite in personality, but on the same page in beliefs and opinions. Our nickname for each other is “strawberry.” We are two sides of the same coin, fire and ice. We balance each other perfectly. We trust each other and are open with each other in ways that we aren’t with other people. We are undyingly loyal to each other. Our friendship is so close that I’ve referred to her as my “platonic soul mate,” and we’re able to joke to each other about how people who don’t know us will probably think we’re a couple.

And that’s where we reach my biggest soapbox here: we need to stop over-sexualizing everything, stop downplaying friendship, and start appreciating true love. Our culture is crazy, confused, and over-sexualized. As a result, true and deep friendships often are rare and even more often are misunderstood.

I see this a lot in the fandom community. I’m a hard-core fangirl nerd (as is Marissa), and if you spend any time among other nerds online, you realize just how quick they are to ship slash that isn’t canon. Sorry if that made no sense to you – nerds talk weirdly! In translation, fans often support gay relationships for characters that are best friends in the source material. For example: Johnlocke, Stucky, and Merthur. “Johnlocke” is from the BBC series Sherlock, where John Watson and Sherlock Holmes are, as usual, best friends. But a huge part of the fan base thinks they should be a couple. The show itself even pokes fun at how they seem like and are mistaken for a couple, even though Sherlock is asexual and John is straight. “Stucky” is Steve Rogers and Buck Barnes from the Captain America films – again, best friends with a relationship that is hugely emotional and important for both characters, but many fans want them to be a couple. “Merthur” is Merlin and Arthur from BBC’s series Merlin. The entire series is about their relationship, friendship, and deep love for each other – but fans want them to be a couple, even though it’s obvious they are not. These are just three examples of some of my favorite fictional friendships that people constantly try to make romantic.

But it’s not just fiction. For goodness sake, look at David and Jonathan in the Bible. I’ve heard plenty of people accuse them of being gay because David told Jonathan that his love was better than the love of women (2 Samuel 1:26). But it’s not romantic or sexual – just that their friendship was a truer and deeper love than all the various shallow sexual relationships David had with his romantic partners.

When people see a love that is true, deep, and life-changing, they can’t seem to comprehend how it could possibly not be romantic or sexual. No! For goodness sake, no! Sex, as designed by God, is an awesome gift that gives a special level of intimacy in marriage that is totally unique. That’s amazing. And yes, for most people romantic love and a marriage relationship is the truest and strongest relationship and form of love that they experience. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only true love or the ultimate love.

The ultimate love is found in the God Who is love, and the only physical thing about that is the physical incarnation, death, and resurrection of our Savior. The truest love, in marriage, friendship, family, or any relationship, is the chosen, active love that mirrors and flows from His love.

So, happy Valentine’s! Whether you do anything specific to celebrate or not, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you take a little time on a day that’s all about love to be grateful for all the loves in your life and to find ways to express all that true love.