When singleness feels like a mess.

on December 8, 2014 in Gal Stuff, Nash-livin' with 26 comments by


Being single during the holidays sometimes feels like a mess.

I’m a pretty confident fun-loving gal who appreciates the life I have. But something happens during the holiday season- my friend Kelley calls it “hyper-awareness”- when my singleness just feels. IT FEELS. It’s palpable in December moments in ways it never shows in April.

God knows it. The enemy knows it. And I know it. I have to take more thoughts captive, make good choices, and call it what it is- messy.

And yesterday was messy.

Sunday morning at church I sat in an unusual spot to save seats for four friends who, for a variety of reasons, all decided not to come to church. “You will not cry about this,” I said in my head, “you are an adult, you are loved by people in this room, if you need to sit somewhere else you can, this is NOT a big deal,” etc etc etc. All the positive self-talk I could muster. Yet little puddles formed at the corners of my eyes while the worship band played, and the lies whispered in my head, “you are alone and it’s always going to be like this.”

“Remind me I’m not alone, God,” I prayed. (I know. Very deep and profound.)

The second song through, I see one of my Vandy bros Keenan and his girlfriend turn the corner into the sanctuary and we made eye contact. They bee-bopped up the stairs and hugged me and sat down in the chairs saved beside me, thinking they were just a little late to church, never realizing they were an answer to prayer.

And as we sat there, me whispering prayers of thanks, Pastor Pete began to preach about Christmas.

“Christmas is a reminder that Jesus doesn’t run from your mess,” he said, “He runs to it. And He redeems it.”

. . . . .

Last night was Dave Barnes’s Christmas show, an absolute highlight of the year for me. Through a series of bizarre events, when I got my ticket and sat down, I was not in a row with my friends and the seats on either side of me were vacant. Because this is tiny Nashville, I knew people all over the audience, just none of them were sitting by me. “Not again,” I thought. What are the chances that I would have to fight loneliness at church this morning, in a room full of people I love, only to have it happen AGAIN, in a room full of people I love?

The show started.

I thought about the people sitting behind me and how they probably felt sorry for me, the girl who came to a concert alone. I felt embarrassed, though there was no reason to be.

I whispered to the Lord that I knew I would be okay and I said, “Jesus, this is a mess. Come sit with me in it.”

And no kidding, two songs in, one of my best friends walks in with her three year old son (that I just absolutely love with my whole heart) and which ticket do they have? The one besides me.

He sat quietly in her lap, shuffled over to her sister for a few songs, and then climbed over to me just as Dave started singing “Good.” (video below, by the way.)

As my little buddy sat in my lap, his hands resting on my arm, I kissed the back of his head and patted his chest to the beat of the song, and Dave sang,

It’s so good.

I have more than I ever thought I would.

I can finally see how all the wrong turns and the heartaches

The lessons in the mistakes

Help me count my blessings like I should.

And it’s so good.

There He was. Just like I asked.


At a Christmas concert.

Using a little boy and a song to redeem my mess and remind me that this life is so good.

Truly. I have more than I ever thought I would.

It may be messy, but it also may be the most wonderful time of the year.

. . . . .


  1. Melissa
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 8:15 AM  |  reply

    I absolutely love you! You words and honesty always touch my soul. Thank you for being you and sharing your journey with the world. Thank you for this amazing reminder of how much Jesus loves us and cares so deeply about all that we care about.

  2. Jessica
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 8:26 AM  |  reply

    Oh, Annie. As someone who just got married, the season of singleness is still fresh in my mind. I remember long, frustrating nights just wondering why I felt so lonely when I had no need to feel that way. It’s so refreshing to see your hurt, then see your coming before Jesus, then seeing Him obviously meet you in your hurt and redeem that. This was the reminder that I needed this morning that I shouldn’t be ashamed of feelings, because Jesus longs to meet me in my mess and redeem it, no matter what “season” of messiness I’m in. Praying for you!

  3. Heather
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 9:07 AM  |  reply

    I’m 36 and single and I can certainly empathize, Annie. For the most part I’m quite content in my singleness and I have a huge extended family that makes me feel loved at Christmas but there have been many challenging New Year’s Eve celebrations where I look around at everyone who has someone and then there I am, alone. God is good though and does pull me out of the funk, just as it seems He has been doing for you. Wishing you (and all those who read this) a very Merry Christmas regardless of whatever trials you are currently facing.

  4. posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 9:12 AM  |  reply

    I had one of those days yesterday. It’s funny how you can be doing totally fine and then everything seems to happen on the same day to slap you in the face with being single. These were needed words for my heart on this Monday morning, so thanks Annie for being brave and vulnerable with sharing your singleness.

  5. Savannah
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 9:45 AM  |  reply

    So beautiful, Annie. Thank you for sharing those moments with us. xoxo

  6. Debs
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 10:23 AM  |  reply

    Annie…I loved reading this…and just so you know this speaks on so mamy levels of lonliness…Jesus came knowing our longings for love…and our need for Him to fill us…especially during the hardest of seasons. Rejoicing that He came close to you this weekend…and always will. I long to have coffee or tea with you this coming year!

  7. cbed
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 10:39 AM  |  reply

    Crying my eyes out. At work.

  8. posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 10:39 AM  |  reply

    You nailed it! Most of my worst single moments happen at concerts. I’m so glad Jesus sat with you in the mess and sent someone to physically sit beside you!

  9. Emily
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 10:44 AM  |  reply

    Whew, tears. I had one of these days yesterday, too. Thank you for putting words to the feelings in a way that I couldn’t quite manage to do myself. Your transparency, honesty, and pursuit of Jesus in these moments is truly meaningful to me.

  10. posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 10:48 AM  |  reply

    Lovely, Annie. Thank you for your words and your open heart. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas season, friend!

  11. Laura
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 11:08 AM  |  reply

    Weeping in daily grind. No biggie.

  12. Amy Weiner Barham
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 11:28 AM  |  reply

    Thanks for this, Annie! I’ll never forget one of those “dates with God.” I braved dinner and a movie alone on a Saturday night in Nashville. When I got to the theater, I not only sat by myself, I was the only person in the entire theater! On the one hand, I thought, God, is this some kind of sick joke? I get it–I’m all alone! But on the other hand, He reminded me He was with me (even if no one else was for the time being).

  13. Lindsay
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 12:29 PM  |  reply

    I was there alone too! Saw people I “knew” scattered about (including you), but decided to just enjoy he music and soak in the season. How great is it that God knows our hearts and sends us just what we need when we need it. Fantastic show, and “Good”is my favorite song 😉

  14. Stephanie
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 1:23 PM  |  reply

    Seriously about to cry…at my desk…at work. Because I so am there with you. I turn 28 in one week. And my life looks NOTHING like I thought it would or hoped it would. And I feel so ALONE. Today I literally laid down on my apartment floor and cried. I cried tears for the dreams I feel are being buried and I cried out to Jesus, knowing that He understands, even though I don’t understand how He understands. Today (and this entire season), the singleness just feels like it will never end. I feel like I might always be alone, but then in the midst of the tears, He reminded me of the old hymn, “Does Jesus Care?”

    Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
    Too deeply for mirth or song,
    As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
    And the way grows weary and long?

    Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
    His heart is touched with my grief;
    When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
    I know my Savior cares.

    I hope and pray that Jesus comes especially close to you during this season, and that you will find joy and peace, even in the midst of all the busyness and stress.

  15. Cami
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 1:36 PM  |  reply

    This weekend was one of those for me. Funny how it works that way- sometimes I literally at home alone, and then sometimes I’m in the middle of the Georgia Dome. It’s nothing new, but then I always feel blindsided by it. Thankful for your words to speak what I cannot.

  16. Mandy
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 4:22 PM  |  reply

    God always knows what we need and your words about singleness is what I’m struggling with. I’m turning 44 this week and I’m so grateful for all He’s given me. Being single isn’t where I thought I would still be at this age. I’ve watched all my close friends get married and start families. It’s hard to see otherss lives change and to feel stuck where you are . Your words are a great reminder that even when I’m the most lonely and can’t see the end of it, He is still right beside me.

  17. Kelly
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 4:45 PM  |  reply

    I needed these words today. Your words. Even more so, Jesus spoken through your words. I find myself in a similar situation and know 100% how the holidays elevate feelings of loneliness….especially, when it includes being far away from family as well (as in my case). After a few moments of sadness, I realized that indeed I should be encouraged even though I’d rather not. Frankly, it would be easier to stay sad wouldn’t it? However, it’s in these times that God continues to shape us and comes to sit beside us as the one who will never leave us lonely or forsaken. So grateful he’s able to take sad and broken and turn it into blessed and loved, especially in seasons of singleness!

  18. Katy
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 8:44 PM  |  reply

    Hey Annie- so funny story but my husband and I were two of “the people sitting behind you” and just to clear the air neither one of us really noticed or even thought anything about you being alone. In fact, I just assumed you were with a big group of people. I remember you because of the little boy. I can’t really explain how I found your blog post but I came across it on a somewhat unrelated Google search. The only possible and most probable explanation is that God is loving us both well in difficult seasons of our lives. Seasons of waiting and wanting and uncertainty where we will learn to trust in His goodness and to find contentment in only Him. Looking back to last night I remember your friends coming in late and love that we got to have front row seats to watching God answer someone’s prayer so specifically. Thank you for sharing your story and for letting me (albeit unknowingly) be a part of it. Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas!

  19. Amanda
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 8:45 PM  |  reply

    What a brave, beautiful post! I have found myself in those same situations and needed the truth you wrote day. Thank you!

  20. bindu
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 9:09 PM  |  reply

    Yep….i cried reading this..thanks for sharing this with us.

  21. posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 9:45 PM  |  reply

    Good stuff, Annie. Add it to the list of things to discuss next time we get coffee. Also: proud of you!

  22. Janet
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 11:05 PM  |  reply

    Thank you.

  23. Annie Barnett
    posted on Dec 08, 2014 at 11:43 PM  |  reply

    I love your heart, Annie, and your honest words here. So grateful for you, and praying you, me, and all of us keep seeing that redemption unfurling in the mess. (p.s. Your hope*ologie podcast was amazing.)

  24. posted on Dec 09, 2014 at 12:07 AM  |  reply

    I was just chatting with a friend tonight about how December is the most hyper-sensitive month for me in regards to being single. I think all of the cute family pictures flooding my feeds and my mailbox everyday make it hurt more. It’s hard to count it all joy when there’s not much to count.

  25. posted on Dec 12, 2014 at 8:03 AM  |  reply

    […] 2. When Singleness Feels Like a Mess.  […]

  26. posted on Dec 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM  |  reply

    […] It’s so good. […]

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