Years ago I was listening to a pastor, who happened to be divorced talk about loneliness. He told of a Christmas when his ex-wife had their children and were away visiting her parents. He was alone, feeling miserable, and went to an all-night diner that happened to be open that day. He sat among what he described the saddest group of people he had ever seen. As he was eating his meatloaf, feeling miserable, a song came over the jukebox. It was Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
I remember saying to myself, “That has to be the worst feeling.”
Fast forward a few years, and I am going through divorce. At Christmas, my children were away visiting with their mother. I found the only restaurant open in our town, sitting in the midst of lonely people. I thought, “If I hear Elvis sing, I’m going to lose it.”
Holidays can be a magnifier. If you are feeling blessed, you feel even more blessed. If you are feeling miserable, there is something about the holidays that seem to make it worse.
If you are struggling with loneliness this Christmas, let me suggest a couple of thoughts:
Loneliness is difficult, but it is usually a season.
We all go through lonely times. Married people report feeling lonely. However, loneliness usually doesn’t last. It is simply a symptom of a transition period in your life. Loneliness is preparation for the next great chapter.
Make the most of it.
I know that sounds odd. Nobody desires loneliness. But look at being single as an opportunity to be good to you. Is there something you’ve been wanting to do? Is there a place you’ve been wanting to visit? Is there a skill you wanted to learn?
My wife, Karen, took up sailing while she was single. And she looks back on those days with fondness.
This is the perfect opportunity to be good to yourself, or even better yourself. Enjoy the relationships you do have. Treat yourself.
Don’t succumb to temptation.
Some people can’t stand to be alone, so they find someone to be with. Truth is, going through divorce is going through grief. Part of the grief process is a step called called “bargaining.” Bargaining is simply doing something to avoid pain. Yet, the only way to deal with emotional pain is to feel it and process it. After that comes healing. And I remind every person I coach: it is better to be alone than be with the wrong person.
I will be thinking and praying for you this holiday season. Remember, you are loved.