Being single during the holidays sometimes feels like a mess.
I’m a pretty confident, fun-loving gal who appreciates the life I have. But something happens during the holiday season — my friend Kelley calls it “hyper-awareness” — when my singleness just feels. IT FEELS. It’s palpable in December moments in ways it never shows in April.
God knows it. The enemy knows it. And I know it. I have to take more thoughts captive, make good choices, and call it what it is — messy.
And last Sunday was messy.
Sunday morning at church I sat in an unusual spot to save seats for four friends who, for a variety of reasons, all decided not to come to church. “You will not cry about this,” I said in my head, “you are an adult, you are loved by people in this room, if you need to sit somewhere else you can, this is NOT a big deal,” etc. etc. etc. All the positive self-talk I could muster. Yet little puddles formed at the corners of my eyes while the worship band played, and the lies whispered in my head, “You are alone, and it’s always going to be like this.”
“Remind me I’m not alone, God,” I prayed. (I know. Very deep and profound.)
The second song through, I see two other friends unexpectedly turn the corner into the sanctuary and we made eye contact. They be-bopped up the stairs and hugged me and sat down in the chairs saved beside me, thinking they were just a little late to church, never realizing they were an answer to prayer.
And as we sat there, me whispering prayers of thanks, my pastor began to preach about Christmas.
“Christmas is a reminder that Jesus doesn’t run from your mess,” he said, “He runs to it. And He redeems it.”
Fast-forward to Sunday night. The Dave Barnes’s Christmas show is an absolute highlight of the year for me (and most of Nashville). Through a series of bizarre events, when I got my ticket and sat down, I was not in a row with my friends and the seats on either side of me were vacant. Since this is a small town wrapped in a big city, I knew people all over the audience, but none of them were sitting by me. “Not again,” I thought. What are the chances that I would have to fight loneliness at church this morning, in a room full of people I love, only to have it happen AGAIN, in a room full of people I love?
The show started.
I thought about the people sitting behind me and how they probably felt sorry for me, the girl who came to a concert alone. I felt embarrassed, though there was no reason to be.
I whispered to the Lord that I knew I would be okay and I said, “Jesus, this is a mess. Come sit with me in it.”
And no kidding, two songs in, one of my best friends walks in with her three-year-old son (who I just absolutely love with my whole heart) and which tickets do they have? The one besides me.
He sat quietly in her lap, shuffled over to her sister for a few songs, and then climbed over to me — just as Dave started singing “Good.”
As my little buddy sat in my lap, his hands resting on my arm, I kissed the back of his head and patted his chest to the beat of the song, and Dave sang,
It’s so good.
I have more than I ever thought I would.
I can finally see how all the wrong turns and the heartaches
The lessons in the mistakes
Help me count my blessings like I should.
And it’s so good.
There He was. Just like I asked.
At a Christmas concert.
Using a little boy and a song to redeem my mess and remind me that this life is so good.
Truly. I have more than I ever thought I would.
It may be messy, but it also may be the most wonderful time of the year.