I spent the last hour googling “single during the holiday season” and clicking in and out of articles. The stories were pretty much all the same. How to survive the holiday season. Things to do when you’re single. The articles start the same way, with cheesy puns about adding extra fa-la-la-la into your season. The slew of articles is really pretty pathetic for how weighty this feeling of “singleness” can be when December rolls around.
So you’re here. And you’re reading this. And maybe you’re the single one.
Valentine’s Day is one day on the calendar but, for some reason, the holiday season feels like two long months of social awareness for the single people in the room.
And maybe Hallmark Movies don’t make it any better because all these fiercely handsome men and seemingly perfect women keep colliding into one another in the old haunts of their hometowns while you’re just shoving more cookies into your mouth and ordering pizza from UberEats.
Scoot over on the couch, pass me a cookie, and let’s do this thing.
First things first, you’re fine. If I had a quarter for every person who tried to tell me to be jolly about my singleness then I wouldn’t be writing anymore. I would likely be retiring and celebrating my newfound wealth on a beach in Mexico.
Reminder #1: Don’t cut the person who tells you this.
Reminder #2: you don’t have to be jolly. It doesn’t have to be a thing.
People mean well when they say this sort of stuff. But if the awkwardness were to be stripped from every
“single at the holidays” conversation then I would just come out and tell you this: Hey, it’s absolutely okay if you’re hurting. You can be disappointed. You are allowed to want to shove couples frolicking together at the mall. Your rage is welcome here.
It’s okay to think it should be your turn by now. No one is going to hate you if you turn off the notifications this Christmas Eve. If seeing pictures of rings at Christmas is going to make you go ballistic then let’s take a step back and go from there.
You are allowed to grieve for what you don’t yet have. Singleness sometimes looks like mini skirts and cocktails. Sometimes singleness feels like grief and longing we haven’t learned to manage yet. We need to have better conversations about singleness. It’s okay to be single and yet waiting to not be. Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean life hits the pause button. There’s a difference.
Your singleness is not a scorecard. It doesn’t have the permission to rate you or degrade you. You are not defined by a ring-less left hand. I’m married now so maybe you think I don’t get to say these things anymore but I’ve been taking notes. I took notes throughout my singleness and now I am taking notes throughout the marriage and I can tell you one thing that never changes, no matter how your marital status may shift: a person never fills the holes only God, himself, was made to occupy.
In some ways, I believe God made the holes on purpose. Chiseled them deep. Dug them wide. Gave us a spirit to want, so badly, to fill those holes with something of value and worth. When we see the holes, we realize we are in need of something. We are in need of something better than this mediocre world. I think we were created with a need to taste heaven, even in the smallest doses.
There was a time when I thought a guy would change that. I thought the right combination of blue eyes and 5’8 stature would fix me. I found myself craving all the attention I could get. I found myself wanting to be wanted. I thrived off of desire. It didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t planning longterm with the man, I just wanted someone to see me, call me beautiful, and hold the door open.
Wanting isn’t wrong. Where I went wrong was picking any man, any guy off Tinder, to make me feel valuable. I could never stand in front of an imperfect man and ask him to give me worth. Your value, dear, will never come from someone sitting across the table from you. A person can accentuate your value. A person can call you to a higher confidence in yourself. A person can call out your greatness and make you feel beautiful. But a person cannot hand you all the validation you so desperately want.
I would learn eventually– after a series of bad dates– that another person could never complete me. We were made to complement but not complete someone else. That’s too big of a role and our backs would break trying.
I’m not going to jettison a list of 5 activities you can do while being single this season because, honestly, reading a list like that when I was single would have depressed me. I was single out enough already. I didn’t want to be singled out by stigmas too.
So here’s all I’ll say: wallow if you want. Cry if you need to. No one is going to stop you. The greatest freedom I ever claimed from the most wonderful time of the year was the ability to say, “It’s okay if I don’t feel wonderful. I’m still here and that’s what matters.”
Your purpose isn’t on pause just because you’re single this year. You could be single your whole life, and still, this world would need something from you. It would tap its worldly foot and look at its worldly watch and wonder, “Is that person still waiting for the relationship to come? There was so much we could have done in the meantime.”
The world still needs you to pick up the phone and do your thing. Not an inch of your passion need be drained away based on a relationship status. There are still cards to write out and people to encourage. There are still shelters in need of extra volunteers and people who feel so heartbroken they aren’t sure if they will be able to handle the season this year.
Whether you see it or not, you’re like this tiny gold thread that’s bobbing and weaving through the stories of other people. You might not be in every story but, if you keep your eyes wide open this year, then you won’t miss the ones that need your touch. Your golden thread.
Eyes wide open. No matter what. Whether you are single or married, dating or engaged, we all need a reminder to have eyes wide open this time of year. The season will go by fast. I’m probably the 12th person to say that to you this year. But I think back to the reason why I celebrate Christmas. I tell myself, don’t miss the point. Don’t miss the point of this.
I’ve lived too long at this point– seen too many things– to believe in coincidences and accidents. I know there is purpose here. I know God is at work. But I also know that every conversation I avoided could have taught me something and every event I go to has the power to change me. That’s what happens when you step out into the world and you look around– you start to change. You morph. You become someone new. And maybe, just maybe, that “someone new” is the person you were meant to be when you meet the “someone new” who ends of wanting to partner with you. You never know. I know it took a lot of fights, battles, friendships, and moves to get me to the place where I met Lane and felt ready to love him with all the selfish and unselfish parts of me. I had to let the world change me before I could change the way I loved someone else.
We get this one chance. It’s this one, rare chance to be living, breathing creatures for a little while on this planet. And as we go, we get this chance to love people until it breaks our hearts and we go mad for one another. We get to scour the planet for treasure. We get to make bucket lists. We get the chance to commune. We get to define the purpose and make plans. There is a massive list of “get to”s that we get to do and we waste so much of that time on feeling like we are incomplete. Feeling inadequate. Feeling underqualified.
This is it for me. This is it for you. We might not get this season again so we should try to shake the fear off our shoulders and get busy with love. Fear wants to keep us isolated. Love wants to keep us busy.
Tis’ the season of joy. And maybe you won’t feel it the whole way through. Maybe it will only come in quick spurts. But calm your little, worried heart and keep on the lookout for peace and light. Repeat this truth beneath your breath as you go:
you’re not missing any piece of you.
you’re not missing any piece of you.
you’re not missing any piece of you.
15 thoughts on “Single for the season.”
Thanks for this wonderful post.
Hannah, thank you once again for your honesty and transparency! I feel everything you wrote! I am just in the BE place! My relationship status has defined me for too long and for the first time ever I am at peace. Do I love being unmarried, well no but I love that I am free to just make experiences in this here and now. Just BE and LIVE your life was what I heard the Lord tell me when I went on vacation last month! ❤️☕️
Really needed this. Thank you.
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Thank you for 99.999999% of this. Also to tell those out there are might be single by choice: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING SINGLE. Whew. There I said it. Our culture seems to thrive on coupling people up. I have dear female and male friends who have been happily single their entire lives. Imagine, it, enjoying life, SINGLE. ❤ So, if there is anyone else out there who is single and happy, yay you. There is nothing wrong with you.
And to anyone single and wanting to be coupled, all my best wishes as you love you first.
Hugs from my heart to yours,
Hannah- I’m 61 and have been reading your blog when I have time (& energy) for the past few years. I’ve enjoyed seeing you grow and evolve, but most of all, I love that you didn’t just walk away from your audience and abandon those who still need your help. I’m in a different season of life, married to the love of my life and best friend for 36 years. I went through hell to find him, never thought I would, and God had to put him on front of me twice before I paid attention. I hope your readers take your words to heart. I wish they had had blogs like yours back in the day. Maybe could have saved me some of my brokenness. But, then, maybe I wouldn’t be as grateful as I am now. Thank you for your comfort, encouragement and wisdom.
I loved reading this! I hope a lot of single people read this and remember it. You should be happy as you are – single or in a relationship.
I really enjoyed reading this. it’s lovely and you know be confident in who you are. you don’t need to be dependent on anyone. just need to realise happiness comes from within don’t think about others or someone holding you back. No one should be holding you back. with or without someone you’ll always who you are. be strong and brave it’s the most important. So your independence to the world …. you’re powerful and not alone.
Love you Hannah Brencher! Love your heart, love your words, love your encouragement. Thank you friend! What a gift you have to always say things perfectly. Thanks for the reminder and The love.
This hits me home Hannah. Thanks for reminding us (always) that irregardless of our status..we matter. Hugs from the other side of the world!
Reblogged this on Handmade Hearts.
Love you Hannah! This one hits me home. Thank you for reminding me that we were made to complement, not complete 🙂 And that the big hole in our hearts must be filled by God first. Bless you!
This was something that I needed to hear today. I have so many people in relationships telling me that I shouldn’t feel bad about being single, but it always comes across as condescending. Thank you for writing in a way that spoke to me and is definitely helping me accept and be okay with my relationship status. I was just starting to question myself and wonder if maybe I was missing an opportunity by not dating a friend of mine. This blog, in part, has helped me realize that it’s probably more my desire to be wanted than him being the right guy. Sorry for rambling, but thanks again for this post!