I mentioned in ‘Tis the Season that Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of what retailers have labeled the engagement season. Many theories have been posited as to why Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day is considered to be engagement season. Despite the reasons, many singles struggle throughout the holiday season.
One reason many struggle is because the holidays are geared towards families. This season highlights things many may feel they are missing out on if they don’t have those close family connections. This is the time of year we really need to pray for and remember those who have suffered the loss of close family members, specifically widows and orphans. It is also a time where we as singles really need to guard our hearts against depression and bitterness.
Now that all the leftover turkey has eaten and everyone has returned to their own homes for a couple weeks, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks for surviving the remainder of the holiday season. Here’s #1
Guard your heart. We hear this so often that we begin to roll our eyes when someone says it, but it’s really important to guard your heart. Our hearts determine the course of our lives (Prov. 4:23). We are what we think (Prov. 23:7). We know that death and life is in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21), but did you also know that we speak from the abundance of our hearts (Luke 6:45 Matt 12:34)? We are taught to guard our hearts by casting down wicked thoughts (II Cor 10:5), but how exactly do we do that?
Throughout the next month, you will be bombarded with images that can cause you to be discontent or unhappy with where you are in life. There will be songs on the radio about spending Christmas with the one you love; movies promoting Christmas magic and falling in love with a big dose of happily ever after; commercials galore that showcase people getting engaged or getting gifts from that special someone; and plenty of social media images and statuses showcasing people getting fabulous gifts, getting engaged, visiting family, and otherwise happy in this season. It can be really tough not to want a little bit of that Christmas magic to rub off on your life.
Maybe your mom passed away and seeing your Facebook friends’ posts about cooking with their mom depresses you. Maybe you can’t endure another sentimental commercial about someone making it home in time for Christmas because you can’t afford to go home this year. Maybe exposing yourself to all of these things brings out your inner Scrooge.
It’s time to guard your heart against these things. Exercise more control over what you allow to take up valuable space in your brain. Whether you need to fast from certain social media or entertainment media, or set aside more time to study scripture or volunteer to help the less fortunate, give yourself something to think about other than what you perceive as lack in your life.
Trust me, I know it’s hard. I know it’s impossible to block every avenue through which feelings of disappointment, depression, frustration, and longing can infiltrate your heart, but being intentional about what you spend your time focused on works wonders.
Beyond being intentional about what you see, hear and do, develop a strategy for dealing with negative thoughts and emotions before you are confronted with them. When a family member starts pressing you about why you’re STILL single, what are you going to say? When someone mentions that you must really miss your dad this time of the year, how will you respond? When you think to yourself “this holiday season is never going to end. Everyone is going around happy and healthy and I’m never going to get to a point where I can feel that way,” how are you going to capture that thought?
Have scripture ready to combat these situations. The word of God is likened to a sword; let it be something you fight back with instead of the sharp edge of your tongue. When someone is quick to remind you of what you don’t have, combat the accompanying longing with a recitation of everything you do have that you can express gratitude for. Take your requests to God in prayer. He’s the only one that can give you the desires of your heart, anyway.
But if you’re going to ask Him for something, know that:
a)if it’s not according to His will, it won’t happen, and
b) you should be seeking His will for your life. Don’t expect His blessings if you can’t accept His correction.
Even if you don’t feel like social media, TV/Movies, commercials and etc. have an immediate effect on how you feel, know that the things that we see and experience often shape our perception. It may not seem like it affected you when you saw it, but watch how much shorter your temper gets with people, how you start to get impatient with the holidays and want them to be over, and how you question people’s sincerity. You can see the footprints of what we allow into our hearts in more ways than one. So step one to surviving and thriving this engagement season is to guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life.