The holidays are here. That means a lot of things to many people…family traditions, gift-giving, high blood pressure, increased caloric intake, intensified Pinterest browsing, paid vacation, watching Elf (for the 14th time) and glitter that sticks to every article of clothing you own.
But, for me, this blessed time of year also heralds in an annual period of holiday torture. You see, this is the time of year that the world conspires to constantly, doggedly, unendingly, relentlessly, incessantly, mercilessly and (worst of all) merrily remind me of one thing: I’m single.
Heh, I totally just heard the collective groans, awwwws, and tsssks of almost all of you. Wait, before you judge me with your judgy sound effects, hear me out for a momento, por favor. I promise this blog isn’t a pity party. There isn’t a whoa-is-me in sight…cross my heart. I also promise not to try to one-up your holiday angst. I realize we all have to shlep it out in one way or another…and I certainly have no desire to compete for the “most pathetic” award. But if you’ll indulge me for a few minutes…I’d like to share some humorous and painfully transparent insights on being an almost- 35-year-old single woman during the Hap- Hap-piest time of year.
I really do love the Holidays. I love that my whole family often converges in one place at one time. I love the tinsel, the glitter and the twinkling of Christmas lights. I love that I have more opportunities to spray paint things. I love the wacky and oh-so-much-fun family traditions that have survived since my childhood. I love that some of the world’s most godless musicians sing about the birth of Christ (and by “love” I mean “really?”). I just love the breath, life, and meaning of the advent season. Baby Jesus steals my heart every year.
But you wanna know what I really hate? Mistletoe. I hate not having a “plus one” at Christmas parties. I hate that “baby” gets to roast chestnuts by an open fire with her fella because it’s cold outside. I hate watching all the cute families in matching sweaters at the Christmas Eve church service. I hate not having anyone to buy “naughty” boxers for. I hate climbing into bed alone on Christmas Eve. But most of all…I really, really hate waking up alone on Christmas morning.
Yes, a true confession from this old maid…if I were to pick one day of the year to be married, it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve. It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day. It wouldn’t be the day I had a flat tire or leaky faucet. No, it would be Christmas morning. Most of us have a time of year that hurts the most…for me, it’s in the moments right after waking up on Christmas morning. It hurts every year.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not incredibly grateful for my life…I really, truly believe that I’m blessed beyond measure. But if I tried to convince you that I never feel the pain of being single…well, then…that would be like blowing Christmas glitter up your butts. No, friends…even though I rarely talk about specifics, sometimes, I’m incredibly weary of being single. Just like some of you are weary of sleeping next to someone who snores.
So, this year I’m going to make a new Christmas wish list. It’s a list of all the things I wish married people knew about singles during the Holidays…or any time, for that matter. I’m about to say to you what I’ve wanted to say… for years. Consider this your “Idiots Guide to Dealing with Singles.” You’re welcome in advance.
1. Please don’t incessantly remind me how lucky I am that my life affords me the freedom to take naps and/or use the bathroom without being interrupted. Ok, I get it. I get to do stuff that you don’t get to do. I know that some of you would give your left arm to have one week of alone time. But let me ask you this…would you give up your husband and children for 15 years of alone time? I know I get to do stuff you don’t get to do…and I promise to never take that for granted. But, all I ask is that you not equate your interrupted potty time and “napless” existence to my years of solitude. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard how “lucky” I am to take naps, I’d have enough money to just buy a dang husband.
2. When I make jokes about being single. Just laugh. That’s all you have to do…laugh. Well, unless the joke isn’t funny…then, as my friend, it’s your job to make the “wa-wa-wa” sound. But if I’m making a joke about being single it’s because I need/want to laugh about it…NOT because I want you to make me feel better. This should be an easy one….because I’m hysterical. Obviously. However, if my jokes are dripping in self-deprecation…then it’s because I’m feeling insecure. Please don’t let me get away with it…just remind me that I’m Chosen by the God of the Universe. That usually does the trick.
3. I read a completely ridiculous article last month on how to find a man within 30 days. One suggestion was to mass email all my friends and family to let you know that I’m single and looking. My first thought was “really?” My second thought was “really?” So, for those of you who have been sleeping through the first half of this blog, I guess I should officially announce that I am, in fact, single. But I have a very important request. If you have a male friend that you think would be “perfect” for me…I’m certainly open to you recommendations…but please have more reasons for our compatibility than “he is also single.” I’m thinking that part should be a foregone conclusion.
4. Please don’t suggest ways for me to find a man. Invariably this conversation starts with “you need to put yourself out there more” and ends with “have you tried online dating?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had this conversation…I could buy a second husband. Yes, I’ve tried online dating. I found the whole process to be a giant, invasive microscope on the petri dish of my insecurities. I also found it incredibly disheartening that 90% of online Christian men are… (for lack of a better word) BORING. Like…I’m-gonna-scrape-my-eyes-out-if-I-have-to-read-one-more-profile-of-a-man-who-says-he’s-looking-for-a-Proverbs-31-woman. The Lord and I have long conversations about this. He tells me to wait…He tells me to trust…He tells me to depend on Him alone…He tells me that He alone can satisfy. He hasn’t yet suggested that I “put myself out there more.” So, until I hear the Lover of my soul tell me to slap some paint on my face and attend a speed dating event…I’m not going to put anything, anywhere.
5. Please don’t herd singles into Sunday school classes together. And that’s all I really have to say about that.
6. If you’re married, you forfeit the right to “relate” to being a 35-year-old single woman. Especially if you got married before the age of 25. I’m sorry to be so blunt on this particular point…but it ain’t the same, darlin. I don’t believe that I’ve been called to singleness. I know this because of the rampant, ever-constant longing for marriage. So, telling me that you can relate to my unmet longing is a bit like telling an infertile woman that you can relate to her…while you’re bouncing your newborn baby in your arms.
7. A few years ago, I stumbled across a statistic in a Christian publication. It said there are 4 single Christian women to every 1 single Christian male. My response? Duh. I can’t help but feel sorry for that one guy being swarmed by 4 salivating women (all claiming to be the Proverbs 31 woman of his dreams). What does this statistic mean for you? It means I need you to understand that this makes the “waiting” particularly difficult. As women, our hearts are created with an innate longing to be chosen…so, as the years pass, it’s easy to believe that I’ve got the word “deficient” stamped on my forehead. I need you to remind me (constantly) to live in the glorious tension of unmet longings. I need you to remind me that seeking a relationship to kill the pain will end in disaster. Believe me, I know that I am Beauty Beyond Compare...and I know that I'm chosen by the God of the Universe every, single day. But I also want you to know that sometimes I forget that. So, even though I appear to be a strong, confident, self-assured woman…some days I’m totally faking it.
8. Finally…and most importantly…don’t assume that everything on my Christmas List applies to every unmarried person you know. If I’ve learned one thing in my journey, it’s that we all have different stories and we all make different choices. I encourage you to ask all of your single friends how THEY feel about being single. You may be surprised by their response.
Here’s the bottom line, folks. I need you. I need you to let me hug and kiss your babies and send your husband to my house with power tools every once in awhile. I need you to remind me that unmet longings are what makes life beautiful…it’s what draws us closer to our True Love. And in return…I’ll let you come to my house and take a nap.
Yes, Christmas is coming. And once again I will wake up alone on Christmas morning. It will hurt…but the pain eventually eases when I hear the Lover of my soul whisper, “Beloved…I love you”…which He does every Christmas morning, without fail. Which is why “I am clothed with strength and dignity; and I can laugh at the days to come.”
So, to the widows…the divorced…the childless…the married…the separated…the empty nesters…the mothers…the fathers…and the singles…Merry, Merry Christmas. May you all hear the sweet love song of our Savior this Christmas morning.