I’ve received several emails recently about how difficult it can be to be single for the holidays. Rather than answer each individual case, I thought I would share with you my own personal experience with that same struggle. I remember one particular Christmas gathering where I realized that out of 18 family members, the only single people were my 85 year-old grandmother and me. My sister had been married twice, happily married now to her second husband, and I wasn’t even dating anyone. Of course, my grandmother had been married to my grandfather for almost 40 years before he passed away, so I’m not sure she would have seen herself as “single.” Either way, we were both “alone” and feeling lonely among a sea of happily married and celebrating family members.
Now to be clear, being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. They don’t always go together, and I don’t want to suggest that being single always equals being lonely. But at the holidays, sometimes it’s that ache in your heart to share yourself and connect emotionally to a romantic interest that really starts to pull at you. Family is invaluable, but wanting your own mate or your own family is a different type of longing.
Why are some of us remaining single while others seem to meet and marry with ease? I can’t say I have the answer on that one, except to guess that it may be that God is calling us to be satisfied with a relationship with him first. Does he call everyone in the same way? No. And I plan to ask him about that one when I meet him one day. But in the meantime, the space in your life of being single can be filled with building your relationship with Him first, one that will satisfy the longings of your heart in a different way. How? Try starting with those spiritual disciplines that just seem so hard to find the time to do with you get busy with other distractions. This can mean attending daily Mass, reading Scripture, doing your own bible study or joining one, going to adoration, saying a Rosary .. whatever works for you. They are called spiritual disciplines, but they are relationship builders. You are forming, and strengthening, and discovering your relationship with our Father and his Son when you practice connecting to your spiritual life.
And so, out of desperation and really nothing else to do, that is what I started doing. I found going to adoration at night was helpful, especially Sunday nights. I also started getting involved in more ministries at my parish. I opened my Bible and actually started reading it, along with some companion book studies to help me understand what I was reading. I read the writings of John Paul the II (or rather books that could explain his writings to me). I looked up some questions I had about the Catholic faith and why we believe certain things.
Did magic dust suddenly appear and Mr. Right materialized? Not exactly. Did God immediately remove that ache of loneliness in my heart? Well, not in time for that Christmas, but yes, over time, like building any relationship, I found myself more satisfied with my single life. And more at peace. And, most importantly, more connected. To Him. And in hindsight I realize that maybe that is why God allowed that ache in my heart to stay for so long. He was calling me to Him, and it took me a while to get my focus away from meeting Mr. Right and towards Divine Righteousness and Prince of Peace.
And so that is my prayer for each of you this holiday season. That if you are feeling thae ache of loneliness, you may find your own path to connection with our Divine Lover. The one who can fill you as no other can. And the journey of focusing on your relationship with Him will draw you ever closer to your calling.