By Mandy Smith, Crosswalk.com
The holiday season is in full swing, and it is now time for Christmas parties, dinners, dances, reunions, and, not far behind, New Year’s Eve celebrations! Over the past couple of years, opportunities to celebrate with friends and family looked different due to restrictions and precautions in place. Now, with increased opportunities to socialize, we are arriving at a busy celebration season which, in turn, allows more chances for candid conversations while catching up with loved ones and friends. I just turned 40 this year, and if you’re still single like I am, the holidays can be a fun and also interesting season to navigate.
Follow along as I give you, particularly my single friends thriving in your 30s, four bits of encouragement to hold onto as you journey through the upcoming holiday season:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Bogdan Kurylo
1. Your Relationship Status Is Not the Most Important Thing About You
The holidays open up opportunities to see old friends and loved ones. It’s fun to catch up, and due to the pandemic, this Christmas might be the first time you’ve seen some extended family members and friends in a while. Typically, when you are catching up with someone you haven’t seen in a while, it is natural to want to know how they are doing, how their work life is, and if you’re pretty close to them, you might even ask if there is a love interest in their lives or not. I don’t find it difficult to talk about my singleness since it’s been a part of my life for so long, but I understand how it can feel delicate in certain situations.
There are usually two different ways of looking at relationship discussions. One way is that you don’t mind talking about your relationship status and may even ask the questioner to set you up on a date. On the flip side, you may be more sensitive or private about the topic, and you’re more likely to spit out an old cliché just to change the topic. Either way, the most important thing for you to remember as a single woman is that your relationship status is not the most interesting or special part about you. You are more than your romantic status, and let me also remind you of what Proverbs 18:22 has to say about you, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” As a woman of God, living a meaningful and joyful life while growing in His grace, we are the good thing that a man finds even if he has not found us yet.
I encourage you to think of 2-3 really fun and exciting things that you have going on in your life right now or that you look forward to accomplishing in the New Year! Being ready to share what brings you joy, whether a new job, a cool restaurant you just discovered, or a new church you’ve started attending, can set you up for conversational success with no awkwardness. This year, I self-published my very first book, a 30-day devotional entitled Almost There, and you can bet I’ll be sharing my book writing and publishing experiences with friends and loved ones who want to hear about it this holiday season!
2. You Are Not Alone
Christmas and New Year’s holidays are typically the loudest, most colorful, and busiest holidays, but, unfortunately, they can also be the loneliest. Some of the most active events in the year tend to be centered around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, including dances, parties with friends, family reunions, work parties, and church events. I highly encourage you to attend a fun event that takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone if you are hoping to meet new people this season too. In my 20s, events catered to meeting other single people were abounding, but in my 30s, as many of my peers were getting married and starting families, events for those in my age bracket appeared to lessen. Even so, I still found really fun holiday events to attend, and I encourage you to keep your eyes, ears, and expectations open for fun surprises this season!
If you’re not one for parties or single adult events, I encourage you to still get together with close family and friends and do something fun while enjoying their company! Single or not, the reality is that someone in a relationship can feel lonely too. You might see a lot of smiling faces in the crowd this Christmas, but I guarantee there are still sad hearts, longings unmet, and wishes aching within. Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking that you are alone in this world, and don't let that keep you from attending something because you’re afraid you'll be the only single person there. Remembering the true meaning of Christmas can help put a “pep in your step” to take your mind off of yourself and onto another.
And since it is the Christmas season, let me remind you that it was a single star that led the Magi, or Wise Men, to Jesus as we read about in Matthew 2:9-10: “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” You never know what your ability to shine for Christ as a single person can do for another’s heart and response toward Jesus. He loves to use His children for His glory, single or in a relationship!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/vovan13
3. God Knows You're Single
It’s easy to feel left out when you’re single over the holidays. Maybe you just got out of a relationship you thought was headed toward marriage, or maybe you haven’t been asked out on a date in years. During my 20s, time felt slower, and I felt like my “timeline” was stretched far and wide in front of me with no internal rush to pace my steps. As I approached my early, mid, and later 30s, I started feeling more anxious about how my dreams and hopes weren’t matching up with my reality.
It was then that God helped me see how limiting and, quite frankly, unkind I was being towards myself when I would reach another Christmas a year older still feeling “behind” since my “timeline” of dating, engagement, marriage, and children was not in my current reality. I was putting age and timeline expectations in my heart for areas of my life that were, and still are, completely out of my control. God was so sweet to help me in my later 30s to stop that negative mindset and begin looking at blessings that came into my life as additions. Staying in a mindset of pleasantly adding people, places, and experiences into my life that gave me joy instead of mentally checking off and subtracting from a made-up expectation list of how and when things would happen has given me so much peace, and I want that for you too, my friend.
God knows where you are right now. As a woman of God with a relationship with her Savior, who regularly prays, listens to the Holy Spirit's promptings, and reads God’s Word for guidance, let me remind you of this: God is not surprised by your relationship status, and you are not behind in being who and where He wants you to be. His plan for you is perfect and best for living in step with His lead. Focus on carrying His joy and hope with you this Christmas and into the New Year and not the label of whatever your current relationship status may be.
4. Enjoy This Season While You Can
As a fellow single woman of God, I never want to sound flippant about the pains that can come along with singleness. The holidays are a time for whimsy, fun, and creating precious memories with those you love, but they can also be a time when you want to share those experiences with a romantic partner, and that’s a God-given desire too. While singleness can be a lonely and hard season to be in this time of year, there are also blessings in the season of singleness that I want to remind you of that can bring you and others in your life joy and love.
Enjoy time in the coming weeks to have fun with your close friends, visit with those that have lost loved ones that are feeling lonely, find ways to bless someone less fortunate financially or practically, and delight in the time that you can spend alone with Jesus to focus on His heart this holiday season. These experiences are unique to singlehood, granting a different perspective and warmth that might look different if you were in a relationship. Remember that there is unending joy and peace found in Him alone and love abounding in His presence. We should take advantage of this extra sweet time we have with Him as we don’t know what our schedules or commitments may look like this time next year and what surprises and blessings He has in store for us in 2023!
He loves you so much, my friend, and what a gift He is!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Anna Ostanina