Christmas truly is my favorite time of year. With bated breath I stretch out those days of Advent and Christmas as long as I possibly can. I slowly add Christmas festivity to my home, beginning with a bare tree that I decorate as the weeks go by. I set out my Advent journal alongside my wreath and begin my daily devotions. My African nativity gets a special place on my fireplace mantle, a precious reminder of time spent overseas in college. I hang a handmade silver and red wreath on my front door and freeze ice lanterns to light the way for visitors. My desire is that every part of my home reflect the newness, beauty, and hope of Christmas.
And yet, amidst the joy and anticipation of this holy season there is a lingering emotion that troubles my heart:
The persistent feeling of loneliness.Amidst the joy of this holy season there is a lingering emotion that troubles my heart: the persistent feeling of loneliness. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Navigating Loneliness During the Holidays
I know that I am not alone in this struggle. Some members of our sisterhood are empty nesters and preparing for a Christmas without children at home. Some are grieving deaths. Then there are those who are faced with unfulfilled vocations. Even those who have found their call to marriage or to consecrated life find themselves struggling with pangs of loneliness at times, perhaps brought on by long distances from beloved family or strife in particular relationships. Don’t let the glittering facade of Facebook images fool you. We all struggle with loneliness on occasion.
Be honest about your loneliness, with the Lord and with others.
What I’ve learned over the years about these emotions is that they are:
- common, and
Rather than trying to stifle them or wish every year for a Christmas without those unpleasant feelings, I’ve learned to find ways to let them be in my life without running amok. If your heart is in a similar place, I’d encourage you to voice your loneliness in prayer (Lord, I’m lonely!), and ask Him to come alongside you and give you comfort. He always loves our honesty.
It’s also okay to acknowledge with friends if this is a tough season for you. Speaking the truth of our hearts is so freeing, and lets others know it is okay to be lonely, too.
Make a plan of self-gift.
When we’re honest about these emotions it won’t come as a surprise that you’ll find others who are also struggling. Would you are willing to extend a hand in friendship to someone who shares a similar struggle?
Perhaps by sharing coffee with a fellow BIS sister or visiting those in our neighborhoods who are marginalized, like the elderly, homebound, or homeless. There are so many in our communities who are isolated and have no true companionship at Christmastime. Consider making a few Christmas cards and hand delivering them to those in need. Even better, continue your visits throughout the year!
These gifts of self remind us that we are not alone, and offer the great blessing of easing not only your own loneliness but those of others as well.
Limit unnecessary holiday struggles.
Pangs of loneliness are only made worse when we stretch ourselves too thin at Christmastime. It’s okay to say no to a gathering that will be emotionally difficult to attend. It’s okay to not say yes to an additional task at work or school this time of year.
Make time on your calendar to do something that fills your heart, like decorating your own home, watching your favorite holiday film, or reclaiming a childhood Christmas tradition that had been forgotten.Pangs of loneliness are only made worse when we stretch ourselves too thin at Christmastime. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Go to Mass or have a Holy Hour with someone dear to you.
It sounds so simple doesn’t it? But sometimes celebrating the liturgy or being in the Lord’s presence with another is the best way to be reminded that we are not alone.
Make a plan to share a Mass or Holy Hour with a trusted friend or confidante, if not on Christmas morning then perhaps shortly before or after. Share your intentions with each other and commit to praying for those intentions during the Christmas season.
It’s such a grace to know you have someone personally praying for you and you for them.
If nothing else, know that this season chock-full of emotions will soon come to an end and life will regain a rhythm in the New Year.
May we hold tight to the truth that we are never really alone, even when it feels like it must be so.
I’m with you in your loneliness. I want you to know deeply that you are seen, you are loved, and you belong in this Blessed is She community.
Here’s to welcoming all of the newness and promise of Christmas together.Loneliness During the Holidays #BISblog / Click To Tweet
Karen Schultz is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She hails from the Land of 10,000 lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. As a doula, lactation educator, and FertilityCare Practitioner, she finds joy in helping women to embrace the gift of their bodies. Downtime is found in quiet adoration chapels, farmers markets and gardens, listening to bluegrass music, and embracing the diversity of Minnesota’s seasons. You can find out more about her here.