It’s the holiday season! That means it’s time for Christmas carols, baking cookies, visiting family, lighting fires in the fireplace, hanging up stockings, and seeing another friend get engaged. ‘Tis the season for popping the question, and if you’re not engaged (or dating at all), those posts that are filled with so much cheer and joy can leave you feeling depressed and frustrated.
While you may be happy to see that your college friend is getting married to the woman of his dreams, or your co-worker is tying the knot with a great guy, sometimes the flood of engagements can hit a nerve.
While logging off all social media until Spring seems like a good option, there’s a better way to handle those announcements with grace. Here are four quick tips to help you curb jealousy when you see the flash of another diamond ring around the dinner table this Christmas.
Stop comparing your story
It’s easy to let other people’s love lives magnify the fact that you’re alone (still). But instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, rejoice in what you do. This holiday season, take time to be grateful for your story. This doesn’t mean that you have to deny the fact that your heart aches for love.
Perhaps you are longing for a relationship and feel God calling you to the vocation of marriage, but there is nothing on the horizon when it comes to romantic love in your life right now. It may seem crazy to vocalize your desires for marriage in that situation—but don’t short sell your story. You can still desire marriage even though you don’t know the when, why, or how of that desire.
Everyone’s love story is like a masterpiece. But some people have watercolors. Others are painting with oil paint. Some create with pencils, while others make broad strokes with brushes. You cannot compare your story to someone if you’re all creating with different materials. Your love story will look very different from anyone else’s, and it will be beautiful in its own right.
If this holiday season leaves you comparing your lack of relationship to everyone else’s seemingly perfect engaged bliss, take those desires to Christ. Rejoice in the life that you’ve been given instead of focusing on what you don’t have yet. Rest in the fact that you have a story, God has an adventure in mind for you.
Embrace the Cross, Even in Advent
It may seem backward to focus on the Passion of Christ during Advent—isn’t this supposed to be the season celebrating His birth? But when it comes to dealing with the difficult side of the holidays, Christ’s passion on the cross is an amazing place to find consolation. Think of the moment when Jesus sees the cross—the wood He will carry all the way up to Calvary and be nailed to. He took in the splinters, the weight, and the hardship that He was about to endure, and then He embraced it.
If you feel called to the vocation of marriage, singleness can be a heavy cross. But, this holiday season, look at the cross and hug it, as if it were your best friend. Right now, Christ meets you in the reality of your situation. He knows about the ache of loneliness. Draw close to Him and find Him in the waiting. Find Him on the cross.
It’s All Right to Just Rest
We live in a culture that glorifies “doing”—but, as Kurt Vonnegut Jr. so eloquently said, “I am a human being, not a human doing.” This Christmas, when a friend’s engagement announcements pops up on your Facebook feed, take a moment to breathe, stop what you’re doing and let go of stress.
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that your romantic life isn’t going according to your plan. If it were up to you, you’d probably be the one posting those engagement photos. But we have to stop stressing about the timeline of our lives. It’s not going to look like what we planned, let’s face it. But the beauty of that realization comes with knowing that it’s going to look better than we ever could have planned on our own if we give our love lives over to God.
Leave anxiety about your love life behind. In scripture, Christ reassures our anxiety. He tells us directly to not be afraid, to not be anxious. In Luke 10:41-42, we read:
“But the Lord answered, ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.'”
Come sit at Christ’s feet this Christmas season and rest in His promises for your life.
Rejoice with Others—’Tis the Season!
There’s a temptation to grit your teeth when you see everyone else’s lives going beautifully and you seem to be stuck in a perpetual single status. But instead of getting wrapped up in jealousy, take time to get to know both people in the newly engaged relationship. What is so special about their relationship? What makes them fully alive while they’re together?
Encounter your friend’s significant other. After all, you don’t want an invitation to two random people’s wedding, you want to know the story behind their love. When they come together in an engagement or a marriage, you can rejoice in their story instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.
Put yourself aside, which comes from a spirit of giving and generosity. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be in a relationship, but right now it doesn’t have to be about you. When there’s a temptation to make a friend’s engagement about yourself, bring it to prayer.
If your friend is open to the conversation, talk to your friend about it. Bring the struggle into spiritual direction. After all, according to Saint Pope John Paul II’s definition, love is willing the good of the other.