Christmas tended to be a lonely time for me when I was single. There was something about the season that just got to me. Maybe it was watching The Holiday over and over or the endless engagement ring ads. There was just something about twinkle lights and cozy sweaters that brought out the unrequited romantic in me. It was the time of year when nostalgia got to me and loneliness was an unwelcome companion.
Even flying home to spend Christmas with my family contributed to these feelings. During my single years, my cousins were getting married and starting families. And three of my grandparents passed away, which changed our traditions and the feel of family get-togethers. It seemed like everyone around me was progressing into the next phase of life while I was standing still. That wasn’t true, but that’s how it felt, particularly at Christmas.
If Christmas tends to bring out the loneliness in your own life, here are a few things that helped me deal with the challenges of the Christmas season:
1. Avoid comparisons like you avoid Aunt Carol’s fruitcake.
Often the loneliness was most intense when I was comparing myself to others, like when I heard about a Christmas engagement, or got another Christmas card from college friends who were married and already had two kids. All comparison does is make us feel like we don’t have enough or won’t be enough. But who gets to decide what “enough” is? God is the giver of every good gift, and He promises to give us all we need for a life of holiness. Whether or not that includes a spouse doesn’t change the fact that He is all we need.
2. Let your loneliness point you back to God.
I love the tradition of lighting the Advent candles. Each week, we prepare our hearts and remember the coming of Christ. The waiting and hoping and anticipation that singles are familiar with are all part of Advent. The words of my favorite Christmas song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” remind us of what awaits us at the end of our waiting:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel
3. Serving is good. Self-pity is not.
One of my favorite Christmas memories is sitting with my grandma at the dinner table and asking her about the family Christmas traditions when my dad was little. I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself at the Christmas celebration, I was going to ask questions and invest in my relationship with my family. Churches have so many opportunities to serve during the Christmas season, so make it a point to keep your focus on the external needs around you. Gather some friends and make it a tradition.
I know singleness is a challenge during the holidays, but don’t let it become a bitter pill. Have a happy holidays that are rooted in the reality of what God is doing in your life and the ways He wants you to love those around you.