Christmas Lantern Hands

Finding hope at Christmas, whatever our circumstances

The Christmas message is one of hope but if we’ve been single for a long time or dating without success for a while, Christmas can also be a tricky time. With so much focus on family, the festive season can stir up mixed emotions for those of us whose prayers have yet to be answered or whose dreams have not yet come true.

We see loved-up couples and happy families all around us, at church carol concerts, on TV or on the front of Christmas cards. We might have wonderful relatives or friends to spend Christmas with, but it can be hard to stop thinking about the things we wish we had. I remember many Christmases as a single woman when I would head to my brother’s house to spend Christmas with his family and with my mum. On the long train journey, I’d wonder if I would ever have a partner or family of my own. I always felt like a child returning home alone for Christmas, and I really wanted to be a grown-up. Worse still, I felt like a failure, like I’d got things wrong.

If this resonates, I’d like to offer some suggestions that might help you find peace and hope this Christmas time:

First of all, know that you are not alone. I know how difficult it can be to feel like we are the odd one out – the only singleton among a crowd of married people – and I also know how comforting it can be to speak with people who are in the same boat, part of our tribe, so to speak. So can you reach out to others in a similar position? Can you arrange to message or speak on Christmas Day, or to meet up another time if you live close by? And if social media triggers your feelings of aloneness, why not stay off Facebook and Instagram for a while? For some, this would be a wonderful act of self-care.

Secondly, share your true feelings with people you can trust. Feelings only fester when kept inside. A problem shared is a problem halved. Seek out people, single or not, who are good listeners and who are able to empathise with you rather than try to fix you. Sometimes, all we need is to be heard and understood. For me, a phone call to a good friend always helps to shift my perspective and can sometimes turn my tears to laughter.

Another suggestion is to remember not to judge your insides by other people’s outsides. You may be feeling lonely and blue on the inside and your friends or relatives may present a perfect image to the world, but things are rarely as they seem. These people may be lonely within in a relationship. They may be hurting. There may be illness. They may be grieving too, for somebody they have lost or for dreams that haven’t come true. So try to see beyond the external appearance. Try to look inside. You might discover a real connection that you would have missed if you’d only seen the facade.

Also, and I know you know this but I’ll say it anyway, remember to appreciate the love that you do have in your life. Yes, our relatives can drive us crazy but we will miss them terribly when they’re no longer sat around the Christmas table. So love them. Tell them that you love them. And show them that you love them. You might also want to reach out to people who might be more lonely than you at Christmas, the elderly or the homeless.

I’d also love you to be able to enjoy the festivities. I know from experience that it’s possible to hold happiness and sadness in our hearts at the same time. So even if we feel grief or loss, let’s seek out the things we love about Christmas. Do you love giving gifts? Do you love decorating the tree with your nieces or nephews? Do you love making stuffing or cooking sprouts? Do you love Christmas specials on TV? Dive in. Embrace the wonder. See the sparkle.

And as we enjoy the festivities, let’s focus on the message of hope and the promise of a New Year. You have hope. You wouldn’t be reading this blog or exploring this dating site if you didn’t have hope. But how can you increase your sense of hope? Perhaps you’d like to pray more, or perhaps you’d like to date more? Is it time to review your dating profile and spruce it up a bit? Is it time to commit to sending a few messages to new people every week? Is it time to seek help, from a friend, a counsellor, or a coach, to break some of those unhealthy dating patterns that are keeping you stuck? Is it time to plan new activities for January so that you fill your life with wonderful things, expand your social circles and become somebody you would love to date?

If you’re still struggling to find hope, take heart from my story. I’ll be heading to my brother’s again for Christmas but this time, I’ll be taking my fiancé. I never thought it would happen. I’m absolutely amazed and very grateful that it has.

Christmas is a time of possibility. The New Year is too. Let’s take the Christmas message of hope and run with it. Let’s get excited about the new things that are to come.

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