Being single during the holidays sometimes feels like a mess.
I’m a pretty confident fun-loving gal who appreciates the life I have. But something happens during the holiday season—my friend Kelley calls it “hyper-awareness”—when my singleness just feels. IT FEELS. It’s palpable in December moments in ways it never shows in April.
God knows it. The enemy knows it. And I know it. I have to take more thoughts captive, make good choices, and call it what it is—messy.
And last Sunday was messy.
Sunday morning at church I sat in an unusual spot to save seats for four friends who, for a variety of reasons, all decided not to come to church. “You will not cry about this,” I said in my head, “you are an adult, you are loved by people in this room, if you need to sit somewhere else you can, this is NOT a big deal,” etc. etc. etc. All the positive self-talk I could muster. Yet little puddles formed at the corners of my eyes while the worship band played, and the lies whispered in my head, “You are alone, and it’s always going to be like this.”
“Remind me I’m not alone, God,” I prayed. (I know. Very deep and profound.)
The second song through, I see two other friends unexpectedly turn the corner into the sanctuary and we made eye contact. They bee-bopped up the stairs and hugged me and sat down in the chairs saved beside me, thinking they were just a little late to church, never realizing they were an answer to prayer.
And as we sat there, me whispering prayers of thanks, Pastor Pete began to preach about Christmas.
“Christmas is a reminder that Jesus doesn’t run from your mess,” he said, “He runs to it. And He redeems it.”
Fast-forward to Sunday night. The Dave Barnes’s Christmas show is an absolute highlight of the year for me (and most of Nashville). Through a series of bizarre events, when I got my ticket and sat down, I was not in a row with my friends and the seats on either side of me were vacant. Since this is a small town wrapped in a big city, I knew people all over the audience, just none of them were sitting by me. “Not again,” I thought. What are the chances that I would have to fight loneliness at church this morning, in a room full of people I love, only to have it happen AGAIN, in a room full of people I love?
The show started.
I thought about the people sitting behind me and how they probably felt sorry for me, the girl who came to a concert alone. I felt embarrassed, though there was no reason to be.
I whispered to the Lord that I knew I would be okay and I said, “Jesus, this is a mess. Come sit with me in it.”
And no kidding, two songs in, one of my best friends walks in with her three year old son (who I just absolutely love with my whole heart) and which tickets do they have? The one besides me.
He sat quietly in her lap, shuffled over to her sister for a few songs, and then climbed over to me—just as Dave started singing “Good.” (video below, by the way.)
As my little buddy sat in my lap, his hands resting on my arm, I kissed the back of his head and patted his chest to the beat of the song, and Dave sang,
It’s so good.
I have more than I ever thought I would.
I can finally see how all the wrong turns and the heartaches
The lessons in the mistakes
Help me count my blessings like I should.
And it’s so good.
There He was. Just like I asked.
At a Christmas concert.
Using a little boy and a song to redeem my mess and remind me that this life is so good.
Truly. I have more than I ever thought I would.
It may be messy, but it also may be the most wonderful time of the year.
Click here to download this free printable today, our gift to you written exclusively for our (in)courage family by Annie Downs. A beautiful reminder to us all that there is hope in the waiting – and God has not forgotten us.Leave a Comment
This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. God’s timing is really so perfect! Thanks for being so open and honest. The past couple of months, I’ve been feeling pretty lonely. I am smack dab in a season of waiting and I am trying my hardest to just trust in the Lord. He knows best.
We need to remember that while we wait, God works. He has been putting me in situations where I have to rely on Him and only Him. While it can be difficult at times, I know He is simply preparing me for what’s in store.
Thanks again and Merry Christmas!
P.S. That prayer is absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to share it with my friends!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I waited 25 years in an abusive marriage…then I waited as a middle aged single mom…and now I see my single daughter – waiting. You’re right, it IS messy and it can be very lonely and frustrating. But, what great answers to prayer God gave you when you asked. That is so like Him to show us His love in such tangible ways. There ARE blessings all around us. May God give us, this Christmas, eyes to behold and treasure all the good things he has poured into our lives. Going to print your beautiful prayer right now…be blessed…you ARE lovely!
well this is me. this is exactly where I am right now. i literally had to have that same prayer last week about feeling alone because I’m single during the holidays and i also felt like my friends had abandoned me. thank you for this. much needed.
Thank you for such a beautiful Reminder hat God is in it with us!!! He sees our hearts and is moved with love and compassion. Christmas can be a lonely time for singles so lEt us lean on our Heavenly Father and relish His embrace. Love to all my sisters and brothers. God is here!!
Thank you for sharing this. The Lord has bid me to wait as well and it’s not easy. But I love how He answers those little prayers, in the moment, with just what you need to be encouraged. We are very much loved and definitely not alone.
Annie, as a single woman, I totally get this. Thanks for sharing your heart.
Tears. As the kids and I are trying to adjust to seperation, husband made sure to text and tell me about live jazz and food and the dazzle. Ache and questions why he is choosing temporary “I can do whatever I want to do” for the work of healing. And “Ill be home for Christmas” drones on in the background and the tears of our children run deep. And so messy waiting is what I do. Tissue piles high beside me as on my knees, praying one Psalm after another I cry out for action from my God Father.
praying for you, too Lisa! aaargh. it sounds so difficult!
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you Lisa, especially the little ones! They don’t understand why daddy left and ache for him to come back.
Please be with Lisa and her little ones this Christmas! Help them get through this rough time of the year without their daddy. Bring friends to sustain them and give them a good Christmas!
Lisa praying for you. Unimaginable pain hold onto Jesus. Standing with you. God is in your situation.
barb Kennedy says
Thanks for sharing I struggle through neg emotions at times and feel sorry for myself feel alone even around friends. Thanks for sharing and reminding me I’m never alkne
Gloria McKeever says
Annie, thank you for this. I just found out that the love of my life, my husband, has stage 4 cancer with metastases. I know it won’t be long, and I will be alone again. I do not want this in the worse possible way…but I know God is in control. I am hoping that the memory of your story will stay with me and I will be able to say, Lord please remind me that I am not alone, as often as necessary to get through this. We met 50 years ago and fell in love, we just married last April. Heaven is going to have to be our happily ever after. Thank you, sweet lady, for your words.
wow, Gloria! praying for you!
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you sweet lady! My heart aches for you both! May God swoop down and give you a huge hug from Heaven!
Please help Gloria and her husband this Christmas. Give them the hope they desperately need! Swoop down and give Gloria a hug!
Kathy Morrissy says
Dear Gloria-My heart comes out to you. Lifting you and your husband to the Lord. Lean on Him, He can handle it. Hugs-Kathy
Lisa McClendon says
Great morning all,
This encouragement was right on time. Although I’m not single, I have a precious, God loving , and beautiful friend who is. I want God’s best for her. She’s so amazing. On the outside she looks to have an amazing life and she does but I know she’s lonely and ask some of these same questions. I am forwarding this to her and pray she subscribes for future inspiration.
As I read this I thought. How wonderful The Lord is for making sure you know His presence. Then I had my own doubt creep in….”I wonder why my moments aren’t surprised by The Lord like that” Then WHOA! I just realized what I read is exactly Right on Time! This is what I needed. Thank you!!!!
Ann Graham says
Hi Annie, I know that feeling all too well. I also know that even in the pain of waiting for our deepest desires the Lord still meets our needs. Recently I read Psalm 23 in the NLT, and it gave me a fresh perspective on this very familiar psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd; I HAVE ALL THAT I NEED.”
I still hope for the blessing of a godly husband one day, but even without a husband, I do not lack for the Lord’s provision. He absolutely does meet us in our mess and helps us through it. May this be an especially blessed Christmas for you Annie (and for everyone else who is reading your post and feeling the same).
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Christy Fitzwater says
This made me cry. My dad went to be with the Lord early in this year, and the sorrow of seeing my mom alone is almost unbearable at times. I have needed a lot of encouragement that the Lord is going to take care of her. Your words have helped a lot. Thank you so much for this. And may the Lord continue to wrap his arms around you.
As I read this, I thought “someone fully gets it.” My birthday is in October, and that’s when I start feeling the weight of being single. I have a little boy, so I make the holidays special for the two of us, but when he goes to bed, I feel so alone some nights. Thank you for articulating so beautifully how I feel. and thank you for the reminder that He sees and I’m never really alone. Merry Christmas, Annie.
Annie thank you for your encouraging post. I am going through so must emotions at this time. I’m thankful for the reminder that I am not alone. Jesus is here in my waiting.
Father you are good. We all need your help. Thank you in Jesus Name.
Wow. So many….hide so much pain. Even in a loveless marriage of 17 years, I was alone. I dread going to school functions or “family events” because I don’t want to face the voices in my head guessing what the couples are saying about me. Why is she single? Her fault? His fault? I have to remember what others think about me is none of my business. However, that still does not keep me from getting very down hearted during these times. I have to try and keep up a happy facade for my children’s sake. Make our own memories and traditions. I want them to see my singleness as not a shame but a plan…for whatever reason. And that reason is too wonderful for me to understand right now. Thank you for sharing. You are braver than you know. Prayers are up for all those with pain.
Thanks for this! I’ve pretty much decided my path is meant to be walked alone & for the most part I’m cool with that, but there are those moments that you talked about that you just feel so alone. Sometimes it’s just reassuring to see other people feel the same way & you’re not the only one that has those thoughts.
Oh my goodness! This is just precious. I try to be sensitive to my single friends during the holidays…or, I thought I was…thinking I might be able to imagine how they are feeling. Turns out…I don’t have a clue. I pray that I can be the kind of friend that you’ve described here…one sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and one willing to look beyond MY schedule and MY comfort…to see one who needs to be reminded that they are not alone.
Bless you, Annie. I love your writing. 🙂
Kristin S says
Oh, Annie, I love this so!
Just last Sunday I was sitting in church alone and on the verge of tears. I cried out to the Lord of just how weary I am of being alone at church. Minutes later a dear friend and her husband came over and sat with me. He hates “that side” of the church but they came! It was a gift from the Lord.
We are not alone.
Beth Williams says
I was single for 39 years. Holidays were no fun. You’d go to church functions, work parties, etc. and see all the happy families and want it to be you.
Now I’m waiting on a good/different job. I have a job with good pay and benefits I just don’t like it here anymore and would like a change.
Prayers for all the single people out there! May God bring people into your lives to make this a special Christmas!
Ha. So Here I am late to your party but had to comment because on the off chance you will read this, you need to know I love ya. Just finally had time to read all my “must read for later” posts and I’m glad…so glad I did. Bless your fuzzy heart Annie Downs.