Loneliness can be a difficult wilderness for single moms. It’s hard enough during ten months out of the year, but in the months of November and December, it reaches new heights, much like an out-of-control toothache. All those TV commercials with a mommy and a daddy serve as poignant reminders of what you don’t have: a family with both parents under the same roof singing how “it’s a holly jolly Christmas.” Thanksgiving and Christmas can be painful, causing one to compare current holidays to previous ones. Even holiday smells remind us of happier days. For some it’s ‘tis the season to hurt.
So what’s a single parent to do? You do what I did. You anticipate your loneliness and plan for it ahead of time. Let me share what worked for me.
l. Choose what you’re going to press into. Over the holidays, you will press into something: memories of the past, the kids, or possibly harmful ways of minimizing the pain (alcohol, unhealthy relationships, excessive shopping). Christmas has a way of offering single moms a variety of numbing activities. But Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). When we lean into Him, we place a covering over ourselves allowing His presence to become real. Emmanuel—God WITH us.
2. Redefine what the holidays look like. See change for what it is—neither bad, nor good, just unique. I had to let go of old traditions I had enjoyed the past ten years of marriage. By accepting what is, letting go of what isn’t, and refusing to think about what could have been, I was able to make room for God to do a new work, allowing fresh air into the atmosphere of my home.
3. Be intentional about what’s real. This time of year it’s easy to live by your emotions and fail to renew your mind to the truth. Make a “This Is True” chart and display it as a reminder of what is eternal and what is temporary. Cling to God’s promises concerning hope for your future. My chart looked something like this:
- Every season is useful by God, even this one. What does God want to me learn about Him that I have never known before?
- Be mindful of your thoughts. Philippians 4:8 sets the bar about what we’re to think about: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” What am I obsessing over?
- Don’t leave the house without spending time with God. How is He trying to reveal His presence?
- Even now, God is at work. How am I cooperating with Him in becoming more like Christ?
Yes, loneliness is painful, and we all want out of it ASAP. Amen? Yet, Jesus understands. He experienced the ultimate test of temptation and loneliness in the desert with Satan. He knows our pain. He’s been there. The same Jesus who overcame the sting of loneliness says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We can take heart knowing that if God can carry us through the stretch of holiday loneliness, then He can carry us through anything.
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.