So it’s the Christmas season. I love this time of year. But as I’ve written about before it can for sure be a weird time for the single Christian.
First, this is the time of year that the Church seems to double down on it’s Family idol. After all, this is the time where all the Easter and Christmas “Christian” families come to church. It’s time to invite your neighbor, who we will wrongly assume is living in married bliss, to church. It’s time to make sure that the whole nuclear family is involved and celebrated.
It’s also time to face all of the relatives that want to know why we are still single. The best part is half of them probably are struggling in their marriage. But I digress. It’s still tough.
It’s the time where you as the single person are expected to do the traveling. You leave your home to go to the home of your parent for to the siblings that have the kids house. I never minded in the sense of I knew it was right. I wanted to be with family and kids should be at their place or the grandparents for Christmas. No doubt. But still. . . It would be nice to do Christmas at home.
And even though you love your nieces and nephews, they aren’t your kids. Which is fine when you are 25 but can hurt some when you are 35. There’s just this part of you that almost feels tired. Maybe even sad.
I used to not really do much for Christmas with my house. Then when I got older I just decided to go for it even by myself. Tree, lights outside on the house, whole nine yards. I’m glad I did. But there is something lonely about the tree and you.
New Years is a whole other ball game. If you’re young, dating someone or even sort of dating someone, or can get at date of any kind . . . it can be fun. Maybe you meet up with friends and go out. I had some great New Years single. Watched a lot of football. Haha. I remember one year me and my roommate didn’t leave the house for about three days. All football.
But again, as the years go by, it’s tougher.
People will tell you that it’s not better with a family. Sometimes that might be true. But that’s mostly B.S. I can tell you now on the other side of it, married with a kid, it’s better with a family. It just is.
I’ve written some other posts on this in the past with practical thoughts. I’ll link them at the bottom.
But really what I want to say is this. God bless you this Christmas season. God sees it all. He sees you leave your house locked up and dark to go to your brothers. He sees you engage you nephews and nieces. He sees you love them in special ways. He sees you get on the floor and play.
He sees you calmly handle the questions of grandparents. He sees you love your parents who really are glad you are there. He sees you alone with your tree late at night. And He sees you wish you had a permanent New Years Eve Date.
You may feel alone, left out or tired this Christmas season. But you’re not. Really Christmas isn’t about the nuclear family. It encompasses it, but it isn’t about it. It’s about a God who put on flesh. Who came for you and me. Who came and was born in a cave with animals, no extended family in attendance.
Jesus came and changed the whole world. He opened the Kingdom to everybody. Not yet married, married, divorced, widowed, parents, kids, rich, poor, sick and healthy. He came so no one would be left out. I’m sorry for when the Church doesn’t get that. But God does. You might skip the family centric Christmas service, but God isn’t skipping over you.
You are not left out of the real Christmas. I know that could sound cheesy, but you know I don’t mean it that way. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or that the hurt doesn’t matter. Really it means it does. Jesus came for that.
Someday we’ll celebrate this day all together. The dinner table will be filled with the best food and the seats will be filled by all the people in the Kingdom. No one will fill tired, left out, or hurt. May you know that you are not left out of that!
Former Christmas Blogs
Dealing with family on the holidays
Thank you so much for this post. It was so timely. Had attended a church event where one of the most sensible ladies (yes, sensible!) asked if I put up decorations because I was single. Thank you for recognising all the minutae of problems, for your posts over the year and for the reminder that heaven will be, as you Americans say, one awesome place!
I read this today on “New Years Eve” day while at work with a heavy heart. I work and live in a facility for senior citizens. I am the chump that has to always work Christmas, New Years Eve, Thanksgiving, and July 4th because I am “single” and I don’t have a “family” and this has been the case for over five years now. The few relatives I do have left live across the country and far, far away………
My facility is owned and operated by a Christian organization….and of course it’s all about “family first”
If I ever dare speak up about working a holiday, or just wanting one off I get the usual “You don’t understand; when you are married and have children (as if, I turn 47 in the New Year) you will see how important these holidays are for families and children.”
“But so and so has little kids, it’s so important on Christmas morning for the parents to be there…”
I could say (but don’t) that my mother was a RN in a hospital. Countless Christmas mornings growing up she wasn’t there for Christmas morning because she had to work…….or some years it was my dad working at a construction job hours away……..and he wasn’t there. In fact Christmas 1981 (when I was 11) both my parents were held at work, and me and my two brothers had Christmas morning and a good part of the day at my grandparents home!
I am so used to this now…..even before I became born again, Christmas was spent at work after I got out on own and finished grad school (hey, someone has to make sure the network servers don’t go down or I had to run a test / install of new applications on them because Christmas was a slow day and SOMEONE had to do it…..the single guy as always……). It’s just assumed in the and out of the Christian world that if you are single, and DON’T have a gf your life just be terrible and you would just rather be a good boy to help everyone else (the Pink Floyd lyric “who was given a pat on the back…..” comes to mind). Dare you say anything…you are being “selfish / bitter / that’s why you dont have a gf / wife because you don’t know how to be happy with your singleness”
Even the ones with a solid gf get the time off “My gf and I are going skiing / going to Cancun / going whitewater rafting in the rural mountains of northern Thailand / during Christmas this year so I can’t work…..
It’s days and times like this that I am indeed reminded of my life, my past bad choices, what I missed out on, and of course….just plain ol’ human nature of just wanting to be endeared, liked and have something that others so easily seem to have and get.
I am not here for empathy, or sympathy…or pity.
I am not here to tell you “how rough I have it……”
I am just here to say to all the single Christians who do Believe, who serve, who are involved, who PRAY, who believe the Bible and not just play Sunday-lip-service to it:
It’s not easy. In fact, The Word of God does not promise us a wife, children…..and doesn’t even promise endearment. I am not going to be trite and tell you “If you have Jesus, that’s all you need!” Just know you’re not alone today, or on days like this. It’s okay to feel a little sad or reflective because our humanness allows it and even His Word tells us that Jesus wept for His disciples because he truly loved them, and called them “friends”
We forget that Christ was fully God and fully man. He knows the longings of the heart, the potentials, the gifts we have and that many of us so want to share with someone else. He understands. But during times like this we must also “understand” that if following Christ was easy, without challenges, troubles, longings……..then He would have no purpose to be sent by the Father.
We singles speak truth when we talk about “what” our place is in the church today….and the truth is that most churches (big and small) really don’t have a clue…despite the act like they do know what it means. We can serve with a smile, and they all think or believe that we are ‘called’ to singleness and don’t need someone because we are content (according to them). We are not going to be listened to. Just accept this. It will save you so much anger, resentment, hurt and sin.
Singles today who are my age (downshifting towards fifty now) pretty much know the ship has sailed, and you were not on it. You can stew, cry, wail to God but what of it at this point?
Christ now commands you bear the Cross, and know that you are not alone. Like Justin said, there will come day when all will “sit at the table” and at this table and none will be left out.
This is a beautiful article in so many ways….A couple of things rankle, though…when you say that “it’s just better when you’re married and have a kid,” I’m sure you’re just trying to empathize in your own way. But lifelong single and childless people can/will only hear that as “it’s just worse when you’re single and barren.” Also, it’s kind of difficult to be told that it will all be solved in the hereafter which could be a long, long ways off and, of course, you only have to pass through the shadow of death to get there. For all your talk about the Church’s idol of Family, your article makes the holidays seem nothing-but. Are you trying to empathize with singles here, or are you simply resigned to the Church’s family-idolatry as a permanent fixture (expecting it to never change and, of course benefitting from that yourself, being on the rosy side, the “it’s just better” side)? My questions are sincere.
Thanks for the comment. First off, I lived the single side until I was 41 years old. So I not only empathize but have experienced it a lot. I’m not speaking here into the ideal. But instead speaking to what is. Christmas and the holidays as set up, in my opinion, is harder as a single person. I’m speaking only to what is, not what should be. The exception at some level might be if you were called to celibacy and living well out of that. But even then because of our current set up, even that would be tough. But for sure as someone who desires to be married but isn’t, our current set up is not ideal. So that is what I’m speaking to. Just being real about it. To me, to pretend other wise is not helpful.
So when I say it’s better with a wife and kid, I just mean that if you desire that, and you have it, in our current Christmas culture, it’s better. Or maybe better isn’t the right word. It’s less hard. Typically.
Congratulations about the baby.
Thanks for your post. Christmas is fine for me. NYE is harder but I chose to spend it alone this year and it was easier because I chose to be alone.
I still choose to live with hope. Jason, I have a lot of friends in their 40s who are getting married for the first time.
Hey….that’s great, it does happen…but usually doesn’t. The demographics inside and outside the church do show this in North American culture. It’s a reality. As for singles over the age of 45 who has never been married and don’t have children…..the odds of ever getting married plummet fast for men and women. Real fast. It is a ship for the most part that has sailed, and if you are a single in this situation and want to be married….you really have to drop the ‘waiting on God to prepare the right / perfect / bring them to you / mentality. Singles in this situation *must* accept a reality that in fact they never be married. Acceptance of this very possible reality and situation can be daunting, frightening….and it can shake the faith of many. I know it has me at times.
The only real thing that causes frustration for me is that just because you are married, or have children that you *deserve* Christmas / Thanksgiving / new Years off. I just don’t like the gentle entitlement of that.
My singleness doesn’t usually bother me….but days like I mentioned in my post…yeah, it’s hard. It’s a truth.
It doesn’t cripple me, but I admit it is hard.
I live with hope too…but I also live in reality 🙂
Do you think prayer makes a difference? Whether it’s your prayers for your own marriage, or if there’s the possibility of marriage for more if churches ever decide to pray for single people?
Yes. I do believe prayer makes a difference. A huge one. Actually, if more churches prayed…..really prayed for His provision and wisdom in this, a shift could happen. I also know first hand that sometimes in prayer we don’t get what we ask for. We get what we need.
Also remember too…….what are we praying for? In our prayer lives (personal and corporate) we tend to pray for what we want, and then throw it God to “bless it” and answer us in what we have prayed for.
How are we praying? Is it lip service? Is a church actually going to have a day / afternoon / evening where everyone shows up and prays for hours on this matter? Will they wait for the Holy Ghost to move, or will it be a short prayer of “Lord, help all the lonely single people in this church, Amen”
What about our personal prayer life? Is it ten seconds? Is it a full on desire of the heart to be married and praying for guidance, answers, help, comfort, softening of the heart, discernment, realizing our own sin, our own shortcomings? Is it prayer of finding comfort, fixing the areas of our life that need fixing, and asking the Holy Ghost to conform us, expose us and yes……help us?
Also, when prayer is answered, are we willing to live it? Sure, the Hebrews wanted a King. They told God “we want a king like everyone else” and God straight up answered “Are you sure about that?”
If we singles indeed are blessed with a gift of marriage are we going to accept what we wanted? Was it for our own selfish reasons? Was it glorify God? What if it pleases God that the person you married gets ill, or looses his job and in a marriage you are forced a hand of poverty? What if you are married and you have other problems in the marriage that need strict conformity to God, and one person doesn’t want to do this? What about issues I have not even mentioned? Step children? Infertility? What about all the other things that married people deal with and we the singles only discover when / if we do get married?
Yes, I totally am a prayer warrior. I have prayed, prayed, prayed and prayed about this in my life. God has told me “no”
and after all these years still in deep prayer, I have not been given the reason of “why” He said “no”
Still waiting on that. In the meantime, it hurts. I get sad about it at times. I wish churches understood this more….but who am I kidding. Church loves families, children, and money in a collection plate.