Sure, the Christmas/New Year combo could vie for the title of Worst Season to be Single. What with the constant barrage of songs telling you that Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love and all the parties you have to attend solo with the faces of other happy families reminding you that you are a family of one.
Stealthy summer wins because of its tricky sneak-attack of sadness.
At first, the physical freedom from outerwear mixed with extended hours of daylight provides a certain kind of euphoria. Soon, however, you discover you have a tad too much time.
In the dead of winter, it’s dark all the time and you have no place you need to go so you feel no guilt staying in on a Saturday night watching an entire season of some show on Netflix. But in the summer, the sunny outside world beckons with promises of road trips, camping adventures, ball games of all sorts, hikes to majestic views, naps in lush meadows, seaside rambles, and so forth, you know what I’m talking about, you feel me.
It all seems so wondrous, until you realize that you can’t really do any of those activities alone.
So you start contacting friends, and unlike a significant other who would do almost anything to spend time with you, friends, even the best of them, aren’t always available.
Soon the texts, instant messages, emails, and even old school phone calls all end in rejection, not because you are unloved or unwanted, but because of schedule conflicts. Suddenly you find yourself sitting through a super long sunny evening wallowing in your singleness.
You’ve been sneak-attacked by summer.
I told you it is stealth. It all started out so promising, but now all you want to do is numb out by watching a few episodes of that one show, but it’s beautiful outside, so guilt is now added to your sadness.
“Thanks, summer, you’re swell. Your bright light has made it almost impossible for me to ignore this dark emotional pit I’m sulking in.”
On occasion, I’m invited to join one of the conflicting schedule activities but the truth is I have never felt so alone as when I’ve joined a group of friends in something I was just not all that into in an attempt to stave off loneliness. Sometimes it only amplifies the false feeling that no one in the world gets me and no one ever will.
Still, I think it’s most often better to go to do something than to wallow in single self-pity. We were created to be in community, after all. However, whatever community we find ourselves in is made up of human beings so it’s not going to be perfect and that is an important truth to remember. Walking into a room of people and expecting them to fix me and the loneliness I feel is not fair. They are regular humans like me; they will fail at making me whole because it’s not their gig, it’s God’s. When I look to other broken people for my total validation and identity, I will be sorely disappointed.
Likewise, when I put my hope and expectations in the wrong place, I will be bitter. I have to check my attitude at the door while I reset my expectations.
I can recognize and admit that I am sad that I don’t have all the things I want right now. I can say to myself that the Lord is my portion* and then over time, after I’ve said it to myself over and over and over again (or basically whenever I feel the sulkiness creepin’ for control) I can begin to understand and believe this truth deep in my soul.
I can decide that while this event isn’t what I desired or anticipated, it doesn’t have to be miserable; it may not be absolutely fantastic but it can, in fact, be decent. I can remember that everything in the world is not about me and attempt to have at least one good conversation where I genuinely inquire about the triumphs and trials in someone else’s life with no expectation of reciprocity.
Or, I can join in on that super long strategy game.
And if I still feel just plain terrible, I can leave and put myself in a time-out and start again tomorrow because the Lord’s compassions are new every morning…even when the morning arrives super early because it’s summer.