Loneliness can be a difficult wilderness for single parents. It’s hard enough during eleven months out of the year, but in the month of December, it reaches new heights, much like a toothache out of control. After all, 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, “It’s a holly jolly Christmas.” The holiday season can be painful, bringing up the past, causing us to compare current holidays to previous ones, where even holiday smells remind us of happier days. Friend, there’s no getting around the facts: For many, “tis the season” to hurt.

So what is a single parent to do when they are in a life situation they can’t change? You do what I did. You anticipate your loneliness and plan for it ahead of time. Just like you prepare to place presents under the tree, you prepare for the unwanted visitor called loneliness. You become proactive in controlling its bite so it doesn’t bite you. You recognize it as real and don’t brush it under the Christmas tree skirt. You address it head-on by trusting God to come alongside. You expect the Father to see you through your loss and carry you to higher ground.

So how do you gird yourself up against this holiday menace?

l. Choose what you’re going to press into. Over the holidays, you will press into something: memories of the past, the kids, work, or possibly harmful ways of minimizing the pain (alcohol, unhealthy relationships, excessive shopping). Christmas has a way of offering single parents a variety of numbing creams. But Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 to press into Him. Come to me, all who are heavy hearted and I will give you rest, a calm on the inside to see you through. When we lean on Him, we place a covering over us allowing His presence to become real. Emmanuel – God with us. We are not abandoned. 

2. Redefine what the holidays look like. See change for what it is - neither bad, nor good, just different. I had to let go of old traditions that I had enjoyed the past ten years of marriage. By accepting “what is” and letting go of “what isn’t,” and refusing to think “what could have been,” I was able to make room for God to do a new thing, allowing fresh air into the atmosphere of my home. The children and I pursued activities we had not done previously. What new traditions could you start? Let the kids offer suggestions. My children wanted to shop for Christmas pajamas. Now as adults, they still buy fleece PJs decorated in elves and gingerbread men.  

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. This Christmas matters. What is God trying to teach me?
  • There will never be another Christmas where my children are this age. Am I making it a memorable one?
  • Remember Philippians 4:8 - “Whatever is honest, just, pure and lovely, think on these things.” What am I obsessing over?
  • Don’t leave this house without reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer. What is God telling me today about His nearness?
  • God intends for me to become more like Christ this Christmas. How am I cooperating with Him in allowing that happen?

Yes, loneliness is painful, and we all want out of it ASAP. Jesus understands. He experienced the ultimate test of temptation and loneliness in the desert with Satan. He knows our pain. He’s been there. Yet Jesus claimed the Father’s Word and quoted it by saying, It is written. It is written. It is written. The same Jesus who overcame the sting of loneliness says the same thing to us today. For it is written…. I will never never never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrew 13:2).

We can take heart knowing that if God can carry us through the stretch of holiday loneliness, then He can carry us through anything.

Pam Kanaly, popular author and one of America’s leading advocates for single mothers, serves as cofounder of the single mothers’ conferences – Survive ‘N’ Thrive. Pam exudes with a God-given passion in seeing women know their value in Christ the King. She is the co-founder of the national organization Arise Ministries, having been featured on the 700 Club and other national programs. www.ariseministries.net

Publication date: December 19, 2013