Why do single people suffer from more loneliness during the holidays than other times? There are good reasons.
For many, being single is okay. They’re fine with that. They might be young enough that they haven’t even started thinking about marriage or starting a family, and they want to wait for college, or when they are more financially stable, but for many singles, the holidays are a time of gloom and doom. Holidays are one thing they don’t look forward too. If they do attend a holiday party, they might be asked the ever-present question, “Why aren’t you married yet,” which might seem sincere, but the question’s loaded with insinuation, so rather than hearing, “Why aren’t you married yet,” they hear, “What’s wrong with you…why aren’t you married yet.” This is even more painful if done in the presence of couples. For many single people, there is such a deep and abiding pain during the holidays that many just disappear during the holidays, declining invitations to parties in order to avoid the incessant questions about their singleness, but have we ever considered that they might want to be single…or that they haven’t met a suitable partner yet. Questions like the above one can drive the single person further away, and push them down, deeper and deeper into depression and meaninglessness.
Called to Singleness
There are some single people in our church that have chosen to remain single, and they are a great blessing to our church. One lady is always giving people things to members to “make their day,” and does a lot to keep our church looking beautiful. That is her calling. She remains single and wants it so, and as such, she is able to do more than perhaps a married person can do who must devote much of their time to their family. The Apostle Paul wrote that “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband” (1 Cor 7:10), so “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband” (1 Cor 7:32-34). Paul’s point is a single person can pour more of their life into the work that Christ’s called us into (Marr 24:34-40; 28:18-20), but the married person can be “anxious about worldly things,” like “how to please his wife,” and so “his interests are divided,” but the unmarried “is anxious about the things of the Lord,” like “how to be holy in body and spirit.” Singleness is not a calling for everyone because Paul warned, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:1-2). This explains why Paul said, regarding the single person, “if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor 7:9), and commit sexual immorality.
As You Were Called
Paul writes that in whatever state we were called, we should remain, although he is not expressly forbidding marriage, but he does say, “let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:14), so “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called” (1 Cor 7:20). The fact is, “You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor 7:23), so again, Paul asks, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that” (1 Cor 7:27-28). Paul says that in whatever state we were called, to remain in that state, whether married or single, but this is not a command, but as he writes, “I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy” (1 Cor 7:25). If we are married to a non-Christian, we must not separate from them or divorce, but if a person was called while being single, Paul would recommend that they remain single so that they can serve the Lord more fully, although this is not a command, but from Paul.
Do you know a single person? I would hope you will try to include them in your holiday plans and make them feel welcome without questioning their singleness. It’s not for us to say who should and who shouldn’t be married. Maybe they want to be married but have no options. Maybe they’ve been divorced and don’t want to get married again. I think we should respect their singleness but also make sure they’re not left out, just because they’re single. Coping with the holidays for a single person can be exceedingly difficult. Loneliness deepens during the holidays, and more so in prisons and in nursing homes where few visitors come, and even their own family seems to forget them. In our nursing home ministry, over 60% of the residents there never have even had one visitor, including family, so they are dying for company…literally. Loneliness can be a crushing weight on the heart and mind, so if you know a single person, make sure to include them in your plans, because, for many, holidays are the most difficult time of the year.
If you know someone who is single, or if you are single, why not connect with others during the holidays and invite other singles you know over to your home to celebrate. Think of those who have no families, or are separated by great distances from their own families, and include them in your plans this year…and drop the questions. They might feel bad enough being single already. We need one another. We’re not meant to be in isolation, so invite a single to your holiday gathering, or if you’re single, create one yourself, and you won’t have to go through the deep, dark days of the holidays alone. The Bible teaches that it’s not good to be alone…in fact, it doesn’t feel good at times. Remember the singles, lay off the questions, and include them as you would your own family, because if they’re a child of God, and you are too, then they really are family.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.