My first holiday season as a single mom was bleak at best. I was living in government housing, working a dead-end job, and had no clue what I was doing as a parent. I had recently been kicked out of my father’s home, as he was none too pleased that I had had a child outside the commitment of marriage. I had no money and very few friends. It was the first Christmas I had ever spent without my twin sister by my side. Words don’t seem to be enough in describing the desperate, lonely feelings I faced that season.
It was Christmas day and I spent the morning lying in bed staring at my infant son. He was the most precious thing I had ever seen, but admittedly, I was feeling more depressed than even I had anticipated. I could not provide him any Christmas presents, and I could not bear to cook a Christmas meal for just the two of us. I did not feel like much of a mom and I certainly was not in the Christmas spirit. The phone didn’t ring. No one knocked on the door. And the cold weather left the view from my apartment window, even more desolate and boring than usual. I almost yearned to go to work, just to have interaction with another person! Finally, a friend invited me to her house to eat Christmas dinner with her small family. I was elated.
She lived just around the corner, so I bundled up my little one and headed out. Upon arrival, I instantly felt unwelcomed. Although my sweet friend was truly excited to see us, it was apparent that her father, who struggled with racial prejudice, was not as excited to see us. You see, my little boy was biracial. After a few remarks and some less-than-warm glances my way, I burst into tears and ran out the door. I had been rejected, yet again.
I spent the rest of that night crying (and many more thereafter). I would love to tell you that that was the only holiday season I spent alone. It wasn’t. There were many, many Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters that I sat alone with my children in my apartment. Often, I found myself too depressed to cook a holiday meal, no matter how hard I tried. I could not help but think of all the things we did not have. I chose to focus on the lack in my life. As a result, I stumbled through the holiday season, praying for spring to soon come. There was just something about that spring season – the new flowers, the birds chirping, and the warm weather – that made me snap out of my depression.
Do you find yourself there today? Do you find yourself struggling to cope with the lack in your life? The loneliness? The heartache? May I offer you some advice?
Do not make the same mistakes I did in choosing to focus on an exhausting list of things for which you do not have. Focus on what God has given you. Focus on the fact that although you may not have the spouse and white picket fence that you desire (yet), you have your health, your job, your friends, your home, your car, your church family, and much more.
Choose to rejoice this holiday season in the risen Savior. Create new traditions with your little family by baking cookies or watching Christmas movies all day. Serve at a homeless shelter with your children. And above all else, know that your Heavenly Father sees just where you are and he will never leave you.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.