Advent has always been my favorite time of year. I love the intimacy and sacredness of it all, and the mystery of “waiting in joyful hope.”
I began thinking about this phrase, and about the idea of waiting in joyful hope, and I realized that very often, we could look at our time in seeking a potential spouse in just this very same way. Maybe we’re not always joyful, but we do wait in hope for that right person to come along.
But, as we all know, sometimes there’s not a lot of hope in the waiting, either. And the holiday season has the potential to be perhaps the least hopeful, the least joyful, time to be waiting for that special someone.
Lately, though, I started thinking about how we set ourselves up for disappointment when we start thinking about being single during the holidays. Yes, it’s a difficult time of year to be alone, especially when we see happy families sharing meals and exchanging gifts. It’s hard to see friends who were once single now celebrating with their loved one. But perhaps we could focus our attention to things that are a sure means of “waiting in joyful hope.”
I remember one year I put my search for Mr. Right on the back burner during two holiday seasons: Lent and Advent. And while it did feel like a sacrifice during the Lenten season, it was a welcome respite at Advent. I relished the time to take a break from all my worldly concerns and focus on what mattered: my faith and my relationship with the Holy Family. And the mystery of Christ’s birth seemed like just the right time.
I mentioned looking on as happy couples shared beautiful times with their spouses and families. It seems hard to feel like you fit in, understandably. But I would guess that, although you may feel this way, chances are your married friends and family don’t feel differently about you. It is important to recognize where your ideas of your situation as a singleton might not reflect the reality.
Remember that you are a vital and wonderful part of those families, no matter what. And now is your time to remind yourself of this. Take special note of the ways you bring your own contributions to the holiday season, and how loved and cherished you’ve been, regardless of your relationship status.
Another thing to keep in mind is that as single Catholics, we are called to practice spiritual parturition. I can’t think of a better time to engage in this practice, can you? Kids at Christmas time are guaranteed to put extra joy into this season, and their joy is so often contagious. Spending time with them can benefit everyone: the children get the chance to expand their horizons with another adult, the parents get a welcome break, and you have a sacred opportunity to do God’s work. For women in particular, this is an ideal time to practice spiritual parenting, because the story of Advent is in itself a story of Mary’s motherhood, both spiritual and earthly.
This is a time to revel in this mystery of “waiting in joyful hope,” but instead of waiting for your future spouse, you could spend time waiting for what matters, and that is what Advent is all about: the birth of our Lord and savior. This is not to say that looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right is wrong, but you might do well to put that on the back burner for this holiday season.
So this Advent I’ll be doing a lot more praying, more pondering, and more true “waiting in joyful hope.” Many blessings to you this Advent and Christmas season!