Surviving Christmas

There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. I know a lot of people who enjoy their own company – I am one of those people. But Christmas time tends to blur the lines.

When we feel lonely, we tend to think it is because we have done something wrong – we have pushed people away perhaps – and we are bringing down the mood of those who reach out to us. So we’re better off alone.

But then the self-pity sinks in. Oh, woe is me! I am alone and no-one wants to be with me! I’m miserable because no-one is with me but no-one wants to be with me because I am miserable. The cycle continues.

Even when we are surrounded by people, we can feel lonely. I’ll admit, I do. I have a loving and supporting family who I will be spending Christmas with. I have presents under the tree and lots of festive foods in the fridge. There’s a lot to excite me.

But I’m not excited. I’m lonely.

And so was Jesus.

If ever there was someone who had reason to be lonely, it was Jesus.

When we’re lonely, we feel like one of the following statements applies to us. Jesus felt every one of them, and more:

No-one understands me!

Jesus was God in man form. How many people do you think really understood that? Even His closest friends didn’t understand it.

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I don’t have any friends my age and no-one I can relate to.

This is a big one for me. I’m the youngest (and only unmarried!) person in my church. I’m pretty misunderstood what with all the “this generation’s so fill-in-the-blank” and “back in my day” speeches. But Jesus was the only one His age too. When He was born, Herod killed all the boys His age. That means when Jesus was growing up, He had no-one in His age group – no-one in His preschool, no-one in His elementary or college. He was completely without peer.

ImageI’m single in a married world.

Yeah. That’s tough. Jesus was single too – but He had some close friends. It’s difficult when you’re single and all your friends are married and/or with child(ren). It can easily feel like we’re overstaying our welcome when we try to connect with our married friends, since well, of course their first priority is to their families. I don’t have a special someone in my life this Christmas, no-one special to shop for, no-one that comes to mind when “All I Want For Christmas Is You” screams through my radio.

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Facebook is my biggest enemy in this state of loneliness as I watch others have fun, enjoying the moment with their significant other. Yep. It seems everyone is getting cosie, and I’m just getting grumpy.

But you know what the problem with this loneliness is? It’s ‘me’ focused. I’m looking at myself, waiting for someone else to fulfill my needs and getting bitter when the world fails to notice I’m alive. First World problems right?

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So, here’s my tips for weathering the loneliness this Christmas and avoiding becoming Ebenezer Scrooge:

Image1. Talk to someone.

It’s an art form many in my generation seem to have lost. If it’s longer than 140 characters, we lose interest. But here’s my radical, game-changing advice: if you feel chased by the woe-is-me’s this Christmas, pick up the phone and call someone. Preferably, if you can, try to call someone who will build your spirits and maybe even someone who may also be lonely. I know it’s hard to admit that you’re not coping, but sometimes that little show of vulnerability can be all you need to bring yourself out of the ditch.

Image2. Bust the tunes loudly and proudly.

Obviously it’s best to stay away from the ‘Blue Christmas’ mixes, but the songs that will bring your focus to what the festive season really means will help to inspire you. If you’re not a fan of Sandy Patty and you’re looking for some modern takes on the old classics (that aren’t by Michael Buble) then can I recommend you download The Stationary Stationery’s FREE Christmas album (including a Carly Rae Jepson parody!) available on SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/thestationarystationery) Relient K’s ‘Let It Snow Baby, Let It Reindeer’ is a fun alternative too. Mostly, the music will help you remember that this season is not about you and your loneliness. It’s about your Saviour. So suck it up princess (I’m saying this mostly to myself BTW).

Image3. Visit someone.

A change of scenery is enormously effective in chasing away the blues. If you’re feeling particularly low, as if your life has no purpose or consequence, how about visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home? Bring them a present too. That’ll give you purpose and spread some Christmas cheer!

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4. Take a hiatus from social media

Here’s a little known fact about Facebook: it’s a façade. Your friends’ lives aren’t that full paced every hour of the day. Stop staring at their fun and go and make some for yourself. Your friends may be just as lonely as you, but can’t admit it and would rather you think they’re having a great time whilst in reality they’re crying themselves to sleep and waiting for some real human contact. It’s time to stop living virtually everybody, and get a real life that doesn’t involve staring at back-lit LCD screens for hours on end. That little red notification isn’t Prozac, so stop using it to fill your emotional needs. (But finish reading this post first!)

ImageEven if you’re not feeling lonely, you can do the above and reach out to someone who you think is struggling. Sometimes, those who are really far gone down the self-pity street, and even those who are completely lost down depression avenue, just need a little human contact to brighten their mood.

God did not create us to be alone – it was the first thing that was “not good” about creation (Genesis 2:18). We need to be in fellowship with each other and with Him.

God will never leave you truly alone because if we draw near to Him, He is faithful to tend to our loneliness and broken heartedness. (James 4:8, Psalms 147:3).

Loneliness is character building and don’t we Christians love that cliché?

I know I do,

Emma.

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