EDITOR'S NOTEHe Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION: The holidays are really hard for me. I dread going to family gatherings or work functions or parties with friends when I don’t have a date or anyone to go with me. Am I wrong to feel this way or what can I do to just push through these feelings and still enjoy being with other people?

HE SAID: From a perpetual card-carrying member of the holiday “kid’s table,” I understand. 

What you are experiencing is pretty common among us “longer than expected” singles and you are not wrong to feel this way. Social gatherings, parties and other “and guest” situations can be discouraging, and holidays seem to intensify and exacerbate the feelings of “aloneness.” However there are ways to make it through these difficult months not only unscathed, but also rewardingly.

The first step is to take your mind off of yourself.

I am reminded of this each day when I see one of our military servicemen or women. They place themselves in harm’s way for our freedoms so we can have the opportunities to “dread spending time with family or friends.” 

Don’t approach this time of year with anxiety or trepidation based upon your marital status, but rather with an eagerness to exemplify the significance of the season through what God commands us to do, “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).

The holidays may be the only time a non-believer is receptive to hear God’s message.

Instead of worrying about attending these seemingly “couples-only” events alone, seek ways you can bring joy, live out God’s love and impact others. In other words, attend these functions with the aspiration to share who God is. 

We are blessed to know this time as a celebration of God’s gift to us in his Son. In the busy-ness of the season, we sometimes forget and begin worrying more about our own desires than his. 

Don’t allow yourself to come before him this year. Enjoy your events to the fullest through him.

SHE SAID: Sometimes it seems like all of life as a single adult is like one giant extravaganza that you must attend by yourself. It’s not always fun, but sometimes you’ve got to put on your big girl/boy pants and just go for it. Such is a holiday gathering, and such is life.

But let me recommend a “social plan” that you can put into place before going to your next family gathering, work function or holiday party. I think it might help.  

First, do a little recon work and find out who is going. That’s right. See who you know who’s going to be there. And then find your “buddy.” It’s up to you whether you ask that individual (or it could be a couple) beforehand to be your buddy who will stick close by for the event you’re attending. If you’re good enough friends, coworkers or family members, you can have a pre-event conversation where you confide in them that it’s hard for you to attend these types of shindigs alone and you’d be pleased as holiday punch if this person would let you be his/her buddy (Hebrews 13:1) for the evening (I’ve done that before, and it’s been a big help!).

Second, determine a time limit for your stay at the party/gathering. Who says you have to be at something like this from the very first moment the door is thrown open ‘til the last person is walking out? If two hours is your limit, then two hours it is. Or if you can only last an hour, then make it an hour that matters: as in, be sure to greet your host/hostess and say “thank you” for his/her hospitality (if you can swing it, a host/hostess gift is always nice to offer as well); try to make a sweep of the room and greet those people you do know; see if you can introduce yourself to at least one new person you don’t know (and make a new friend!); and then, by all means, do partake of the food and beverage that’s been provided for your nourishment and enjoyment. It could help distract you for a few moments, calm your social nerves and fortify you somewhat for the rest of your time there.

Third, pray before, during and after. Pray beforehand that the Lord would bring peace to your anxious heart and that he would help you to be others-focused during the party/gathering. By switching your perspective, you may feel less self-conscious and actually find yourself having a good time as your attention is directed toward others. Then, pray during the party/gathering that the Lord would point out to you someone who needs an encouraging word (Romans 12:10) or just someone who looks lonely and needs someone to approach and befriend them (you can be that someone for someone else!). And finally, pray afterward. What does God want to teach you/show you through this experience that is usually difficult for you as a single adult?

I think if you see a party/work function/gathering as a growing experience (James 1:2-4) as well as an outreach opportunity (1 Peter 4:10), you might find yourself enjoying holiday events a little bit more.
 

HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.

Laura MacCorkleSHE is … 
Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one. 

DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the twenty-first century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!). 

GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that this column will be an encouragement to you. Click here to visit the He Said-She Said archives.

Visit Crosswalk.com’s Christmas Facebook page here.