Blues. Why is loneliness associated with blue? Why not red and green — the colors of the Christmas season that strikes loneliness into the heart of the most contented of singles? It’s a season of gifts, when a lot singles would rather return their ‘gift of singleness’.
But then, what if? What if the Lord did give us a receipt with which to return our “gift”?
I’m not talking about the classic “Scrooge” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” story where you get to see the ‘what your life would be like if you were never single’ perspective (though that might be interesting!). I’m talking about an actual return receipt the Lord gave you. You can return your gift of singleness!
Ready for it? Singleness can be returned at the Focus department in the INAY (It’s Not About You) store. I know, that’s harsh – but it’s true. Bear with me.
I know loneliness, too. I am currently in the season of life where most of my friends are getting married, which only accentuates it. Last Christmas season three close friends got engaged, my ex-boyfriend got married, and so did my own little brother. As if that weren’t enough, several other friends entered serious relationships around the same time. Every time I turned around someone else was under the mistletoe singing “All I Want for Christmas is You”. I couldn’t get away from it.
Yet right there in the midst of the loneliness was where God began teaching me lesson number one, the first item on our return receipt.
Face it. A secret of loneliness is this: it never goes away by ignoring it or pretending it’s not there. Loneliness is always in the shadows, waiting to jump out at you as soon as you walk in the door after work, get off the phone with a bubbly friend who seems to ‘have it all’, hear that song, or shut off the TV. It attacks in the quiet when there are no distractions, or all at once in a crowd. Loneliness is not a respecter of persons or places; it just is.
Why do we try to run from something that we can’t get away from? Did you ever try to outrun your shadow as a child? It never worked for me!
A shadow is only dispelled under direct light. It’s the same with loneliness – we have to stop fearing it and start facing it. Sometimes we don’t want to face loneliness because it is there we have to actually face ourselves.
Tyler Perry’s “Madea” ask the question, “Why would anyone want to be with you, if you don’t want to be with you?” Not to say that you’re lonely because no one, not even yourself, likes you.. But we each need to come to the place where we like being with ourselves. Not in a prideful egotistical way, but with a quiet confidence in who the Lord made us. At peace with Him in us, not trying to hide the corner shadows of our hearts from His piercing light.
I had to face myself, face my neediness. I had a huge need to be needed. If someone didn’t need me, I felt lost and lonely. The Lord broke me of that during a time where I needed everyone else and no one needed me. It was there that I had to face myself in the light of Him. It was very painful as the layers stripped away, but He was there whispering, ‘I don’t need you – but I want you.’
You may still face loneliness even if you don’t have anything about yourself you need to face. Your story will be different – but I can guarantee you this: the loneliness won’t leave until you face it. Maybe your battle will be jealousy over the relationships others have, maybe your battle will be with contentment, but the one place everyone’s battle begins and ends is at the foot of the cross. Ask Him how to face your loneliness. Ask Him why you fear it and what to do about what He reveals. “You Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28 (NIV)
Let His light chase away the shadows of your loneliness! He won’t leave you there – He lights your lamp with His Spirit and gives you a tool to fuel it with: the tool of focus, the second item on the receipt.
Focus it. Where is your focus? When all the circumstances and excuses are stripped away, loneliness is really a focus on self. Ultimately we choose whether or not we give in to the shadows of loneliness by what we focus on. When all our distractions are stripped away, we left not just with loneliness and longing – we are left with Him. He is there all along; loneliness just give us the clarity we need to see Him more.
Subconsciously, we like to think life is about us, and about our happiness. But it’s not. Loneliness kind of proves it’s not about us. If it was, we wouldn’t be lonely! If it’s not about us, then who is it about? You know the answer – Jesus. Life is about holiness, not happiness. The quote should be “life, liberty and the pursuit of holiness”.
Loneliness is a feeling that will come; it’s what we do when the longing comes that matters. When we focus on loneliness, we focus on us. Control the loneliness by using it as a tool to redirect our focus on Christ, on pursuing holiness.
Where is your focus this Christmas? Is it on the ‘reason for the season’? Is it on what you don’t have, or on what you do have? What do you have? What you have is item three on the return receipt.
Use it. Loneliness should be a trigger point. After you face it and know where to focus it — use it! If you’re single, there is a reason. Don’t waste the time you’ve been given. Swim against the tide of the culture around us: use your singleness to be a blessing to others. Loneliness drove me to want to know Him more. And because of that, I now thank God for my singleness. I know Him like I never would have if I “had” someone else. Learn to know Him, and learn to know you. You are made in His likeness. Get to know the passions and purpose He created you for.
My dear friend Joyln Smith wrote a song that I love about singleness, reminding us that loneliness is not a battle we fight alone.
“Singleness is what Christ was called to,
loneliness is a battle Paul fought through.
As for me, I’m just woman swimming against the tide,
Lord help me abide, help me abide.”
Abiding in Him is the key to actually following through and returning your ‘gift’ of singleness.
Return it. Return your gift of singleness this year by allowing the battle against it to make you stronger. Return it by giving the gift of your focus to others and to Him. Look around you for people to love the Lord through.
Return it by using it. Be His hands and feet: help at a food bank, babysit for a tired mother. Take a teen shopping.
Return it by facing yourself. Do what you dread the most and you will realize that the fear is worse than the deed it’s self. Play some Christmas music and start your own traditions you can share with others someday. Share what you have now. Invite kids over to decorate the tree – let yourself receive joy. Turn on some red and green lights – they may even chase the blue shadows away.
Contentment isn’t giving up your desires for someday – it’s controlling your desires to keep from wasting and ruining the present. Don’t let loneliness rob you of your ‘gift’ this year. Return it!