Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but often it’s a struggle for single parents. It seems that every past disappointment finds an outlet to resurface during the holidays. With so much pressure to be merry and to have the perfect little family, it brings on additional stress. As a former single mom with two tiny tots, this season was especially unstable. My emotional teeter-tooter got its workout. One moment I was up, singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” and the next moment I was down, mumbling “Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”
So what’s a mom to do in finding balance? Reviewing these reminders enable you to experience Christmas in a fresh light.
1. It’s ok not to be ok. I heard a statement one time: “It’s ok not to be ok, but it’s not ok to stay there.” Part of being emotionally healthy is accepting what is. Admit that you’re disappointed or feeling helpless to fix it. But don’t stay there. When we renew our mind that God withholds nothing good from us, we’re encouraged to press through.
2. Comparison is toxic. It’s impossible not to compare. After all, seeing the flawless family sitting in front of you at the Christmas Eve service is a killer. But this is only one season of your life. Don’t get stuck in a victim’s mentality. Nothing wholesome comes from putting yourself in a mental rut.
3. You’re not incomplete. You are not less than because you don’t have a significant other. You are complete in Christ. There’s not another “half” of you walking around out there. Single moms who are on a search for the other part of me, find themselves disappointed when they find him. Wholeness is not found in a boyfriend or mate but in Christ.
4. This season matters. Your circumstances this Christmas are vital in God’s long range plan. If He subtracted one letdown, one misfortune, one boo-boo, one calamity, one failure, then you’d be less than the woman you are now and ill-equipped for where God is taking you. (From The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions.)
5. Emotional health comes from doing life differently. Change in the family is hard when life is not like it used to be. But change can also be the best thing that ever happened. God is making all things new. So cultivate that truth by doing new things: volunteer by serving others, start fun traditions, develop a coping strategy that keeps Christ at the center.
6. See this holiday as a “God-thing.” God has unique lessons for you to learn that can only come about in these circumstances. This kind of divine education doesn’t come through comfort but difficulty. Concentrate on character development. Ask God what He is teaching you about you. Him. Others. Journal His response.
7. More is not better. As moms, we think that more gadgets will make our children happier, but all they need is you. My kids don’t remember all their stocking stuffers when they were two and three; however, they do remember my countenance, the joy of new Christmas pajamas, and that I was 100% there for them.
8. Isolation is harmful. Withdrawal is lethal. There’s a natural tendency to be alone when your holiday colors of red and green turn into the holiday blues. When we insulate ourselves in the cave of loneliness, it woos the temptation to numb our pain with unhealthy behavior. That makes January a horrific uphill battle.
9. Who’s number one? Before you know it, the children will be grown and out of the house. Make this Christmas count while they are still at home. What pleasant memories can you pack in their suitcases? What traditions will you zip in the outside pocket? How can you grease the wheels with the real meaning of Christmas so it never rolls away from them? Focus on the kids!
10. You don’t walk alone. He is JESUS–the One meeting your deepest needs for acceptance, companionship, provision, wisdom and hope. He offers a magnetic promise more stunning than gravity’s pull: James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Christ is nearer than your own soul and closer than your most secret thoughts.
So, friend, embrace this Christmas Messiah with your whole heart. Every stitch of your well-being and the fruitful memories of your children depend on how much of HIM you invite into your holiday feast.
About Pam Kanaly
Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.