Well, this is the week. Thanksgiving is in a few short days, signaling the start of the holidays, and you might be finding it hard to look forward to it all. The dream of meeting someone special hasn’t happened yet, and thoughts of the office parties, family gatherings and other celebrations can leave you feeling lonely, jealous, depressed and discouraged. But, allow me to offer you a way to turn this around because this is a perfect opportunity to start sharpening your ability to love and be even more prepared than you are now for when you do meet someone special.
In her book, No Greater Love, Mother Teresa spoke these beautiful words of wisdom:
What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others…
This is excellent advice for anyone who is dreading the upcoming holidays because they are single. If you would, just pause a moment and fast forward to your upcoming Thanksgiving celebration… can you imagine which situations will drag you down the most? Is it seeing a relative that just recently got married and is bubbling over with joy? Is it someone you haven’t seen in a long time who will interrogate you over why you’re still single? Is it that person who wants to set you up with someone who is “perfect for you?” Maybe it’s the careless comments that someone will make about your situation – believing they’re funny when they’re really not? Maybe it’s none of that and you just feel like you can’t go through one more celebration without having someone special to introduce to everyone?
It’s easy to hide within your shell at a time like this and remain guarded and reserved. But while self-preservation may be the painless route to take, it does nothing to hone your ability to love. You may feel like you’d rather be the one receiving the TLC right now, and you may very well be justified in that. But how incredibly meaningful and beautiful it would be to set those feelings aside and focus on others.
What we need is to love without getting tired.
Mother Teresa talks about loving others in doing those little things – yes, the ones that often go unnoticed. Picking up someone else’s dirty dishes as you leave the table to get a second helping. Taking the trash out without being asked. Spending time listening to your great aunt ramble and not muttering under your breath while you do. Just spending time listening to her. Taking time to get to know your teenage cousin who could really use your wisdom and guidance. Little things. And they don’t really go unnoticed because your Father in heaven sees them and He’s really the one that matters.
I’ll never forget one very important family gathering I was at when I was feeling terribly lonely and dejected. I arrived, put in my time, and took off to do my own thing without really investing myself in my family. I regret that because a relative I love very much had a severe burden she was carrying and wanted to share with me, but I didn’t spend any time with her beyond the obligatory greetings and hugs, so I missed a real opportunity to help someone.
Loving others has everything to do with generosity and the generosity you practice now will be so very important to the one you will fall in love with and eventually marry. Generosity seems so rare these days but holiday celebrations can be full of gifts you give to others without ever making a purchase. And these gifts are the little drops of oil that keep your light burning bright. Remember what Jesus told us in the gospel of Matthew:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5: 14-16).
I pray that your holidays may be filled with lots of little gifts you give and that you will reap the rewards of practicing generosity!
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