Dear Waiting Heart,

Take a deep breath. The holiday season is here. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and chances are you’re on your way to a relative’s house, or relatives are piling into your house, or you’re gathering with your friend group or church — somehow, you’ll find yourself surrounded by happy people who seem to have everything they want.

And there you are, loving your people, but somehow feeling alone in the crowd. 

Because there’s your little sister hanging on the arm of her husband, beaming with newlywed bliss… while you’re wondering whether your Mr Right will ever show up, or if maybe you’re somehow not marriage material.

Because there’s your cousin showing off her chubby baby to everyone, exhausted from sleepless nights but oh so happy as a new mommy… while you had yet another negative pregnancy test this morning.

Because there’s your sister-in-law, who just landed her dream job and is so excited for a new and exciting chapter in her life, knowing she’s exactly where she’s meant to be… while you feel lost and aimless, running into closed doors everywhere you turn.

Because there’s your friend, glowing after the announcement that she’s expecting her second baby… while you ache for just one, but your husband isn’t ready yet.

I know what it feels like. Holidays are hard. I understand feeling like the odd one out, the only person in the room who doesn’t have her life together, whose prayers haven’t been answered. I get the awkward moments, the probing questions, the jealousy, and then the guilt over being jealous. And I understand that sometimes, you just want to run away and hide from it all.

But dear waiting heart, today I encourage you — Don’t run. Don’t hide.

Can I share two things with you that I’ve learned recently?

The first is that those people aren’t the enemy. As Christ-followers, we do have a very real enemy, whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy {John 10:10}. But your enemy is not the girl who got engaged and married while you were still waiting for your boyfriend to propose. Your enemy is not the woman who got pregnant right after you had a miscarriage. Your enemy is not the people who ask dumb questions and make insensitive comments. Your enemy is not your husband or your mom or your coworker. Your enemy is the one who tries to take your eyes off Jesus and turn your heart against those people! He is the enemy you need to fight — not your friends and family.

The second is that it’s healthy to surround yourself with what you’re praying for. My friend Caroline at In Due Time shared this with me. All of the “self-care” things you’ll read will tell you that it’s okay to hide when it’s hard to be around those people, that it’s fine to pull away from relationships when they have what you want and it’s too painful. What Caroline shared with me was counter-intuitive to that: Surround yourself with what you want. Your newlywed sister and her husband? Hang out with them. Listen to what their married life is like. Ask them what they’ve learned from marriage. There’s such benefit in observing those who go before you. Your cousin and her new baby? Hold that baby, feel his warmth and breathe in his sweet, baby-bath scent. It might be painful, but it can also be soothing to your soul. Let it be a springboard for your prayers as you ask God to do for you what He did for her. 

The holidays are fully upon us, and when you’re in a waiting season, these days can bring as much heartache as joy. When the hard moments happen, hold on. Don’t run away. You are strong and courageous {Joshua 1:9}, and hope is an anchor for your soul {Hebrews 6:19}. You are not alone {Isaiah 41:10}…. and believe it or not, you do have much to be thankful for this year!

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends.

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