The last three months of the year are, without a doubt, my most anticipated three months of the entire year!
Once my birthday comes around at the end of September, I am primed and ready for all things fall (bonfires, sweaters, soup, cider and football), which quickly leads into my excitement for all things Christmas + winter (snowdays, shiny lights, decorations, holiday movies, festive music and lots of family traditions)! It’s all so magical and intentional, and there are so many times when I literally ask myself, “What could be better?!”
Then, as if completely repulsed by the idea of my happiness, a conniving little voice sneaks in eager to burst my bubble and whispers, “If only you had someone special to share it with.”
It’s like a perfectly timed arrow shot right into my achilles heel. Soon, my fa-la-laing becomes more bah-humbug-y, and the season of merry togetherness just seems to point out everything that I am without.
The season becomes a battle, except I’m only ever on the defensive. Once this condemning and disapproving voice finds its way into my mind, I feel powerless as to how I can shut it out.
That is… until now.
I’ve had about enough of Satan’s games, and thanks to some loving but firm coaching from Erin and many mornings spent pouring over my Metanoia Catholic Journal (+ a heavy dose of God’s grace), I finally feel like I have the tools to turn the tables against the enemy.
My weapon of choice? Thanksgiving.
You cannot feel both thankful and angry, nor thankful and fearful, at the same time.
These were the two most common emotions that would come up every time I thought about the fact that I am single.
Angry that I was alone. Angry that my friends had boyfriends and husbands – and some, babies – when no man had even asked me out on a date in months. Angry that my life + my timeline wasn’t unfolding in the way that I thought it should. And angry that God wasn’t helping, wasn’t answering me and wasn’t delivering prince charming to my doorstep.
Underneath that anger was fear.
I was afraid that something was wrong with me. I was afraid that I was going to have to lower my standards. I was afraid that I was going to miss my window and be alone for the rest of my life.
I’m not saying I no longer feel either of those emotions. I do! Often. But the difference is that I have learned how to experience them – how to process them and share them with Jesus is a very honest and very human way.
But guess what, he’s human, too! Jesus’ humility + humanity is literally what the feast of Christmas is all about!
Instead of using all of my energy to feel sorry for myself and indulging in these emotions that were keeping me stuck – I mean, just look at the fruit: I was judgmental, resentful and pretty darn-near closed off from even the idea of a man asking me out – I’ve discovered how much more joyful, peaceful and (I’m assuming) more attractive I have become since choosing to be thankful.
Thankful for the time and flexibility I have in my schedule to do things like travel to see friends who live states away or across the ocean to get a heads start on my bucket list. Thankful for the money I am saving and that I have to spend on mailing cards, buying Christmas presents (gift giving is 100% my love language) and enjoying a happy hour with my girlfriends without having to consult with anyone else. Thankful for this season of being extremely available to my family, especially to my grandparents, and the memories we can make together. Thankful for the formation I am receiving from Metanoia Catholic – but also from the Saints, leaders of our Church and anyone else who comes into my life, willing to give me a glimpse of their own interior life and walk of discipleship with the Lord.
Being thankful shifts my perspective. It opens my eyes to see the gratuitous blessings that the Lord has and is continuing to lavish upon me.
Thanksgiving leads me to slow down, take a breath and reflect on what I have vs. that which I don’t.
Thanksgiving helps me to live in the present moment and takes the anxiety out of the waiting.
Thanksgiving reminds me of the goodness of God and reminds me of the countless times he has made the impossible possible.
Thanksgiving teaches me to give, as much as it teaches me to receive.
When I’m encouraged to find role models, those who exhibit this posture of thanksgiving well and who can help me continue to grow, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight Our Lady – Mary, the Mother of God.
There is an entire chapter in the Gospel of St. Luke that expressly exclaims Mary’s song of thanksgiving. Mary’s Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55) reveals how inspiring, how transformative, how consoling a prayer of thanksgiving can be.
In her own period of waiting, in the midst of all of the unknowns, at a time when it would have been easy to succumb to fear and anxiety, Our Lady chose to be thankful. She chose to shine the spotlight on God, in doing so, reaffirming her trust in him – and his timing.
Mary didn’t let herself fall victim to the circumstances surrounding her life and unexpected pregnancy. She didn’t despair over what this announcement would mean for her impending marriage. She didn’t whine and complain about being uncomfortable during the long journey to Bethlehem nine months pregnant. She didn’t make excuses, didn’t scoff at her responsibilities and didn’t blame others.
Mary was thankful: for her family and friends, as well as the complete strangers, who helped care for her and her newborn baby; for shelter and the warmth of the animals, even if she had to give birth in a cave; for the gifts of the magi and the protection their secret provided for her family.
I don’t know how much Mary knew about the mysteries that were before her, but I do believe her disposition of thankfulness made even the saddest, most painstakingly horrific moments of her life a little sweeter, as she chose to place her trust in something greater than herself.
And the same invitation for such intimacy is extended to you in this season of singleness.
- If the holidays serve as a painful reminder of your own season of singleness,
- If God’s promises seem hollow or you feel forgotten and overlooking,
- If you’re waiting for your life to begin, for the magic of the season to be restored until you meet that special someone,
- Or, if you want to learn how to prepare your heart (and mind) to receive the gift of your vocation,
Then join me this Advent for a 4-week small group to discover how this season of singleness can be the key to growing closer to Christ. Together, we’ll invite Jesus into the ache and identify the beliefs we have about ourselves and relationship status and begin to renounce and reject the lies that we’re not enough. Learn how to unite your prayers to Our Lady’s in her own period of waiting, and enter into Advent like never before!