By Betsy St. Amant Haddox, Crosswalk.com
Dear Single Woman,
I see you.
I know the holidays can make your relationship status feel like it’s suddenly under a spotlight, or worse yet, under those really unflattering dressing room lights that make everything seem wrinkled and disproportionate. Your extended family and great aunts crowd the Thanksgiving table and ask the usual nosy questions about when you’re getting married and why you aren’t dating anyone, and don’t you want to have children?
These holiday dinner interview sessions are why there are so many Hallmark movies with fake-date tropes. It can make you feel a little desperate. You more than likely want those things for yourself, too, and if a wand existed to create those very outcomes, you’d have surely waved it by now. The questioning just makes you feel like something is wrong with you, that maybe it is super simple to fall in love and get married and have babies, and you’ve done something wrong. The anxiety starts to roll in—what if you never get there? What will people think? What does that mean about you?
So you find yourself pushing cranberry sauce around your plate and fake smiling, wishing you could return home to your favorite sweatpants and put all this grim holiday reality out of your mind. It’s so much easier to be single on a random day in April than at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Or maybe you are single completely by choice in this season of your life and can’t understand why no one else in your family or friendship circle will accept that. They naively think success means coupling up, and they’re blind to the other types of success in your life…your job, your ministry, the noble character traits that make you who you are. The way you encourage your friends and give to the needy and study God’s Word. The way you leave a room better than you left it, the way you took up that new hobby or finished writing that manuscript you already dreamed of completing. You’re you—and you want to be accepted on your own, not considered part of a matching set that’s missing one-half. You’re tired of family and culture trying to tell you that you’re not complete without Mr. Right.
Maybe you’re weary of kissing all the frogs along the way to find your alleged prince. You need a break from the online dating scene, from the matchmaking attempts from well-meaning friends already celebrating their tenth anniversary. Being single for right now is okay.
Being single forever is also okay.
Or maybe you’re newly single, and it’s one hundred percent not by choice. Oh, I remember that feeling. I spent several years as a single mom after an unwanted divorce, and the holidays were always the hardest. The resounding silence around the table in those situations might be worse than the endless questions. Everyone knows what happened—that you were left, abandoned, rejected—and the awkward quiet echoes loud. There’s an empty chair next to you, the one that your boyfriend or fiancée or husband used to fill but is now taken up by the elephant in the room that no one dares to discuss.
I remember. It’s hard. You’re experiencing grief when everyone else is happy. It creates tension—you want to be happy too, but there’s an ache that won’t cease, and no one else can quite understand. Everyone is taking selfies with their significant other while you brush crumbs off the tablecloth onto your plate, avoiding eye contact. You eagerly volunteer to do the dishes or do something to stay busy while everyone pairs off for card games.
Or maybe the effort to include is even worse than being ignored—it feels forced, like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying on the glass slipper. You just don’t fit anywhere right now, and unlike the stepsisters, it’s to no fault of your own. You didn’t ask for this situation, but you were given it, and it’s the worst possible gift imaginable.
I know. And I’m sorry. But whatever the reason behind your single status this Thanksgiving, it's crucial that you remember these three truths:
1. You are Seen
Right here. Right now. Even at the table with that glaringly obvious empty chair. Even when you’re packing up turkey leftovers and feeling like a leftover yourself. The God of the universe has not abandoned you, even if your husband did. You are not alone, even if you’re single. He’s with you, reminding you of His presence and His love and His sufficiency. His strength is made perfect in any weakness you might feel. He is enough.
2. You are Valuable
You’re made in the image of God. The very Creator of the universe, Who made glorious sunsets and wild stallions and intricate spider webs came to earth as a baby, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to take on your sin so that He could rise again, defeat death and hell, and bring you into eternity with Him forever. Single? Taken? Married? Dating? Engaged? Divorced? When you consider your worth in the light of Christ and Who He is…who cares about your relationship status? Your relationship with God trumps any man-made relationship on earth. After all, those are temporary. He is eternal.
3. You are Not Without Hope
The scariest—and the best—part about this life we live is that we never know what’s coming next. There was a day when I was a single mom with no quality dating prospects in sight…and the next day, I met the man who is now my husband. You never know what is around the proverbial corner this holiday. Maybe by next Thanksgiving, that empty chair the invisible elephant is occupying will be occupied by your future spouse. Or maybe it’ll hold the new best friend you haven’t met yet and didn’t know you needed. You are not without hope, sister. In fact, God tells us in His word that we can actually overflow with hope.
Romans 15:13 (ESV) "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
That spotlight this holiday season might feel like it’s highlighting all the areas you want to keep hidden right now, but what if you changed your perspective?
What if that light isn’t intrusively judging you, but rather, is the glow of the Lord’s presence warming your skin? What if you turned your face to it and soaked in how He sees you rather than how your family or friends or community might see you? What if you changed your focus to Him rather than on your aching, broken, or lonely heart?
What if you invited the Lord to pull up that chair next to you, to hold that spot and keep it warm and bring you laughter and hope this holiday season? You’ll never know unless you try. I’m a personal testimony from the other side of how intentional, personal, and lovely the Lord can be to our hearts when we’re struggling.
I see you. But more importantly, so does He.
So enjoy that second piece of Thanksgiving dessert, smile at the chair next to you, and wait with eager anticipation for what the Lord has for you—not only for next season but in this one. He is faithful, and that is always something to be thankful for.
Photo Credit: ©Zinkevych
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.