Tis the season, huh?
My girl posted this on Facebook back on November 20 making this declaration:
The holiday season is blanketed as a time of joy and thankfulness. But as some of us deal with brokenness in our families, like me for example, holidays can be an anxiety-provoking time of year. This season, though, I have already decided. I have chosen joy and thankfulness. Despite the grieving that is healthy and required in this healing process, I choose joy. I choose thankfulness… to none other than Yahweh.
“Unexpressed gratitude communicates ingratitude. Ingratitude is a subtle form of rejection. It is not enough to FEEL gratitude. It must be EXPRESSED…” – Pastor Eric
While we celebrate the birth of Jesus (do not forget that!) and everyone and everything around us is that beautiful Christmas spirit, some of the broken-heartedness of your life only gets magnified. One of those areas is that you are still single–which you think you can do something to fix this area. The brokenness of other relationships you know you can’t fix but maybe you can do something to fix this area. So you contort.
May I divert you to read this great article on why you may be single now. The 5 Main Reasons Why You Are Still Single. (Isn’t that great?!)
Dating is not the kind of relationship that cures loneliness. Especially if you rationalize away or loosen up your boundaries to find a new relationship. That just adds more to the loneliness soup like shame. Relationships that resolve loneliness must have certain elements such as safety, unconditional love, and deep commitment.
Relationships with safety, unconditional love, and deep commitment can be found not only in the opposite sex. Your team can provide this. Your church small group. Your group of friends. Your team is a help to your loneliness soup. Your team should allow you the freedom to be lonely with them and then your loneliness won’t feel so overwhelming. To trust the vulnerability of your loneliness soup to your team or group of friends is hard because it requires…vulnerability.
To choose poorly in dating relationships is easier. Even as a temporary fix. Or so it seems.
Here is some researched insight into this. In order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets. Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please. And some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame. Some use just one method. Most use a variation of all three. Yet all of these strategies move us away from connection—they are strategies for disconnecting from the pain of shame. Research from Dr. Linda Hartling used by Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 77.
Which method do you use?
How about you try a new way?
Loneliness and shame do not have to mix together. They are really separate from each other—with a connection that destroys. Loneliness is a signal that you are alive and living vulnerably. Loneliness will push you to relationship—not that idealized romantic relationship which you think will cure your loneliness but relationships with people who love you. Your team. A healthy church. A healthy circle of friends. A place to serve others in the name of Jesus.
When shame is connected to loneliness you will choose your love for a lifetime out of dependency. And that is no love for a lifetime. That is painful work for a lifetime. This is one of those unhealthy patterns we hope to lead you in breaking as you choose to brave date.
Meanwhile, practice gratitude. Choose joy and thankfulness. You are a worthy catch. Practicing gratitude lets everyone know that you are worthy of being seen. Practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and that you are enough. You are enough which means you get to have a relationship that has the elements of safety, unconditional love, and deep commitment. Do not let shame get in the way of that. Do not let the Christmas season get in the way of this.
Choose joy. Choose bravery. Worthiness is your birthright.
(Photo credit: http://www.magforwomen.com/ways-to-overcome-sadness-during-christmas-season/)