I want to speak to those who may have a hard time giving thanks during this holiday season, specifically because you feel alone.
I would understand that maybe the last thing you want to do is sit around at a table with people and put on a fake smile. Trust me, I have been there! I want to take you back to a time in my life where I wasn’t feeling very grateful.
Many years ago, in my mid twenties, I was a single young woman who spent Thanksgiving eating with my family at my mother’s house and then spending time at a different family member’s house in the evening. We enjoyed great food, conversation, and dessert together. However, I remember that day feeling incredibly lonely. On the outside, I seemed happy and interested in being with everyone. But inside I was not alright. I loved Jesus and was truly trying to seek Him. But in spite of that, the reason why I felt lonely was because I didn’t have a partner. I compared myself to many other women who did, and I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt like maybe if I was prettier, smarter, or had a better personality, then maybe I could have had a partner to share the holiday with. Then, I thought, I could truly feel happy.
I wasn’t finding joy in just being in my family’s presence, being grateful that we were all healthy, all alive, and that God had provided for all of our needs. I was too busy focused on what I didn’t have, and I missed my chance that day to feel blessed and also be a blessing to someone else. I chose instead to dwell on the fact that I felt alone with no partner. The holidays have a funny way of reminding single people that they are single!
When I returned home later at night, I decided I needed to read something to encourage myself. At the time I enjoyed hearing sermons and reading devotions from a preacher named Charles Stanley. I looked on his website and immediately found an article about feeling alone on Thanksgiving. His article focused on combating negative thoughts with God’s Word,and on focusing on what you have instead of what you lack. He wrote about how we need to be grateful for all we have, for all that God has done for us. His words also reminded me that although I desired a partner, that God desired me to draw closer to Him and to find my joy in Him. God wanted all of my heart and attention and this was the perfect time to give that to Him.
That night I cried out to God, and I said something along the lines of… “Lord, you know how much I hurt sometimes to be alone, but I want to give you this loneliness. Replace this with your love and a stronger desire to know you. Help me trust you.” I remember having a lot of tears that night, and feeling an exchange of worrying and negativity for God’s peace. I remember feeling that God understood my desire and He cared about my heart. He heard my cry and He knew that I wanted someone but He also knew it wasn’t the time. I remember literally feeling so much comfort that night knowing that God loved me and that I didn’t have to feel alone.
When I decided to have a good attitude and just rest and trust in God, I was able to be a blessing to others, which was what God had intended. I had to give him my doubts and trust that I would have a partner in His timing, but I couldn’t wait for that to happen in order to have joy.
Fast forward to now, many years later, and I am getting ready to celebrate my first Thanksgiving as a married woman with my husband. God knows how much joy I feel in being able to say that! I feel blessed to have one more thing to be grateful for. But I will be honest and say this is not the source of my joy. This is an added blessing to my life that is already complete in Jesus. I think we always have to be careful when we put all of our joy into an event, a person, or an experience. Jesus desires to be the source of our joy.
God began to work on my heart years before I met my husband. I had to learn to be content on holidays, and focus on blessing others around me. My mentality changed from focusing on what I lacked, to thinking — How can I help someone this holiday? Is there someone depressed that needs encouragement? Is there someone who is struggling and needs my prayers? How can I bring joy to my family during this holiday and minimize their stress? How can I show the love and and peace of God to my family members? How can I serve others who don’t have any family to celebrate with or maybe don’t have food to eat? When you think like that, you don’t have time to feel alone.
When you are filled with God’s love, you show that to others around you and that becomes your focus.
I realize it is easier to just force a relationship with someone at the expense of not having to be “alone.” I feel that this is unfortunately something our society does often, and it is something I have done as well. If that is something you are doing right now so you don’t feel the sting of loneliness, I want to challenge you to evaluate your decision. Is it worth it to have someone who you know isn’t God’s best for you, just to say you have something? Or just to temporarily fill a void? Are you with that person for reasons that are truly beneficial to your life, or are you just using that person?
Being honest with yourself will save you a lot of pain in the future, and a lot of unnecessary heartache.
Yes it is hard to be single sometimes, but it is even harder to force a relationship that you know isn’t for you. You can also bring pain in your life if you are constantly dating guy after guy because you don’t know how to be alone for any amount of time. Doing this doesn’t give God a chance to really work on your heart.
I want to challenge you to do what is hard for you right now, so that later you can reap the benefits of patience. Learn how to face the loneliness now so that you can have joy in the future. When we are not patient and rush things, we bring trouble on ourselves. Often times God wants to heal us, and do something special within us, but we are so focused on wanting a relationship that we miss the lesson he is trying to show us when we are single. When we are single is when he has our undivided attention.
If you are going through the experience and feelings that I went through, please know that you are not alone! When you decide to surrender your heart to God, He will come in and encourage you, heal you, and love on you in a way you never thought possible. His love for you is stronger than any person could ever give you.
If you feel pressure this holiday to be with a partner, choose to believe that God does have someone for you- but know that worrying about it and dwelling on it won’t make it come any sooner. This world does a good job of making us focus on what we don’t have. Don’t let the pressures of this life and your own emotions bring you down. Choose to have joy instead. You can choose how you feel – we always have more power over our emotions than what we realize. We get to pick what we are going to give our attention to.
You can choose to give your attention to loneliness, or choose to give it to God and dwell instead on the promises He has for your life.
Why not focus on all that you have right now? Make a list of blessings and read over it daily. Make a list of all God has done for you this year. I’m sure there are battles you have won, obstacles you have overcome, no matter how hard this year was for you— choose to see the silver lining. Train your mind to focus on those things when you feel something is lacking. God is good and you can trust Him. He knows that maybe you feel depleted or defeated, but if you ask Him, He will give you His strength. You can overcome loneliness, and ANY other difficulty, with Him on your side.
Trust in His ways and His plans and allow yourself to be immersed in His love. Choose to be a blessing and to serve those around you, and later He will give you that added blessing your heart desires!
Psalm 34:10: “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
Psalm 25: 3: “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame…”
Isaiah 49:23: “…Then you will know that I am the Lord, those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”