The corny tune blared loudly over the PA system as we stood in line behind what seemed like hundreds of shoppers. With four kids in tow, I hadn’t set out to accomplish anything more than to purchase much-needed toilet paper… and my patience with the circumstances was growing ever thin.
Shopping carts crammed full with toys and treats lined the aisles and the lyrics screaming a “Holly Jolly Christmas” were spinning violently in my head.
In that moment… nothing at all was JOLLY.
Eyes heavy from lack of sleep and a never-ending to-do list in hand, I stood there in the checkout line feeling desperate to hold myself together. I could feel the tears falling helplessly down my cheeks as my six-year-old poked me with another item that he wanted to “add to his Christmas list.”
I know better than to allow those despairing lies to rehearse in my head, but I can’t find the strength to fight.
There’s just something about Christmas that turns everything upside down. What’s supposed to be a joyous celebration of Jesus becomes a horrid reminder of all that is lacking in life. The Christmas cards trickle in with happy smiling families, Facebook taunts with pictures of holiday parties you’ll never get to attend, and carols drone on about the perfect and wonderful life that everyone but you seems to have.
It’s funny how easily we convince ourselves that everything else in the world is absolutely perfect when everything in OUR world is absolutely excruciating.
If we could stop even for a second to see the truth, it would be so very obvious that suffering and pain are no strangers to the holiday season. Lost loved ones, financial trouble, family drama, serious illnesses, and so many other circumstances find themselves ever more devastating this time of year. Despite the image that is portrayed, everyone does not have a Martha Stewart Christmas tree that they will gather around singing carols with a whole and healthy family.
But sometimes, it just feels that way. Oh, sweet single friend, this is such a hard struggle that we share. It’s true. Sometimes it feels like we are swimming upstream in a cesspool. But the reality is, we are gliding safely on an ever-so-carefully crafted vessel manned by our all-powerful, loving, and gracious God. Even when we can’t see His hand.
Standing there in the check-out line, I was reminded that while the circumstances might be overwhelming and the temptation to slip into despair can grow stronger every minute, God is fully in control. The peace that I so desperately need in the hustle of the holiday is found in complete faith and trust in God. I must focus my mind there and rest in Him.
So how can a single mom find peace in the dark circumstances?
Single Mom Devotional: Quiet Time
Despite the busyness, we cannot neglect to spend quality time with God, focusing on what He desires to say to us each day. Even if you have just five minutes, this time spent focusing on Him will change the entire course of your day. We can’t afford to skip, especially when circumstances are tough.
There are great resources to help you should you need it, like our 12-day single mom devotional. Check it out below to get started.
For me, meditating on Scripture is the only way I can keep my mind focused on God. If I don’t do this one thing, I find myself drowning in the lies of despair. Find a few verses that speak to you and write them down. Post them where you can see them or keep them in your purse/pocket. When Jesus was facing persecution by the lies of Satan, He fought back with Scripture. We need to do the same. The enemy will not win!
Need ideas? I’ve made printable Scripture cards for encouragement during the holidays.
Count Your blessings
It probably goes without saying that if we focus on what we lack, it will consume us. Our focus must be on the blessings that we do have. Oh, friend, I know what it’s like when being thankful is hard. I have lived those moments when it seems like there absolutely cannot be a single positive thought to have. And I’ve learned that the enemy convinces us to stay there.
Yes, the days might be dark and the bills might pile high. The storm might rage on and our hearts might bleed raw. BUT… we are still blessed. There is still a God who loves and adores us, who will never leave us and is ALWAYS working things for our good. So it’s true, we are blessed beyond measure. Write that down!
A few years ago, serving became the focus of our Christmas festivities through Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. There was just something amazing about pouring our hearts into those in greater need. I am so thankful that God compelled me to teach my kids to serve. It’s only in this light that it becomes irrelevant that there is little under the tree.
Stay Away From Facebook
I know it seems harsh and it certainly isn’t mandatory, but staying off Facebook can be very helpful during the holidays. I’m not saying that I think Facebook is bad. It’s certainly been a wonderful way for me to build relationships and receive much-needed encouragement. But let’s face it, sometimes watching what your friends are up to can be downright depressing. We usually don’t need any extra reminders of what is missing in our family, what we cannot afford to buy, or where we cannot afford to go.
I used to stay clear for a few weeks around holidays. As I’ve gotten better at believing God and looking past the lie of despair, I’ve slowly been able to come back to Facebook during the holidays. I still usually avoid the day itself and a few surrounding days, though. It just keeps my focus where I really want it to be.
Redefine what is important at Christmas
I have to admit that I saw holidays the same way that many do. I thought: We NEED a beautifully decorated tree, a shiny new dress for Christmas Eve, and presents piled high, or it won’t be a good Christmas.
When we say it like that, it sounds so absurd, but in our hearts, we are still convinced of it. What if my kids get no presents for Christmas? It could happen, but it shouldn’t matter. The point of Christmas isn’t getting presents under the tree. It’s the celebration of our Savior. It’s actually all about GETTING the most important gift we could ever get: salvation.
Yes, I know it’s hard to embrace this way of thinking. No one does it. All of our efforts this time of year are focused on the material aspect of what goes under that tree. But in the overall picture of our kids’ lives, what goes under that tree is meaningless. Please don’t shoot me for saying this, but GETTING a gift does nothing to teach us how to be a sacrificial giver or a servant to all. And that is what Jesus commanded us to be.
So you know what? Let the tree be bare. Let the rest of the world go into debt and frolic in the selfishness of things. How about we single parents ban together and change the whole thing? What if we teach our kids to spend Christmas pouring out of themselves and expecting nothing in return? What if we made it about time spent together praising and loving our most gracious Savior?
After all, long after the latest toys are broken and shoved under the bed, the memories that we make with our children will be treasured in their hearts! Let’s go start some family Christmas traditions and make some memories, shall we?
Join our 12-Day Single Mom Devotional Series
If you can relate to the feelings expressed in this post, I’d like to invite you to join our 12-Day Single Mom Devotional Series for Christmas. It’s completely free! Each day I will send you a new email to help you keep your mind focused on Christ as you navigate the tricky circumstances of Christmas as a single mom. Click below to join.