The Season

by Rhonda, January 01, 2024

Christmas season certainly has its challenges, doesn't it?  Divorce makes the holidays feel different.  Even now, despite our tremendous healing, I am sensitive to the changes in our Christmas holiday.  I see it on my kids' faces, too, their hearts desiring the Christmas of the past, with both of their parents together.  

If you're struggling through the holiday season, I am so sorry.  God loves you dearly.  You are his daughter, and He is not going to leave his daughter when she is hurting.  If I might make a suggestion, do your best to be open to what God has for you through this season, even if it does not feel familiar.  God loves seeing you delight in the surprises He has for you, and He will surprise you.  Give it a try and see what happens.  

Stay active through the holidays.  Staying active doesn't mean it isn't going to hurt.  The first time we went riding around the city, looking at holidays lights, with just the three of us, I felt like I couldn't get through it.  But, those first few years are "building years" where you're making new memories and new traditions.  They may not feel great, but staying at home in bed won't feel much better (trust me, I tried it).  Every year as you gain distance from the divorce and create new traditions, you will feel better, but the first few are going to be tough.  Keep going.  The day will come when you're going to enjoy your holidays again, so don't expect perfection during these "rebuild" years.  Let yourself hurt, but don't hide under the covers.

Focus on helping others.  Nothing takes the sting out of the freshly divorced holidays like focusing on something else.  Our Ukraine refugee families (yes, there's more than one now) have saved us every bit as much as we've saved them.  Find someone who needs a place to go on Christmas.  Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.  Do everything you can to remind yourself of your blessings instead of focusing on what you're missing.  The best Christmas of my life was this year, and it wasn't because we somehow managed the perfect meal or the perfect presents.  It was because I had a houseful of Ukraine refugees watching Home Alone.  Different?  Yes.  Better?  Oh, yes.  I've never sensed Christ so absolutely present in my home on the holidays.  I needed to think about something besides my own problems, and helping others is always the solution for self-focus.

Remember who you are, and Whose you are.  Everything hurts more during the holidays, especially divorce.  Divorce is a drastic form of rejection, and over the holidays it doesn't take much to cut deep when dealing with something as severe as this type of rejection.  But, in the midst of finding your way through holidays as a divorced person, remember you are a daughter of the King.  You may not feel like royalty here on Earth, but you are.  You are not a "divorced woman" or a "single mom" in God's eyes.  He doesn't use those words to identify you.  You are His daughter, His beloved child.  So, while you're hurting, don't let the emotion of the holidays steal your memory of who your heavenly Father is.  He is the God of the universe, and these holidays aren't about a perfect family, a perfect memory, or even perfect behavior.  No, the holidays are a celebration of the love of our Savior.  These days are about Him, and His love for His children.  His love defines you, not a perfect holiday or your marital status.

This year, as we started the holidays, I found myself enjoying some of our new traditions.  It turns out we like to go to candlelight services, and this year we brought a couple of Ukranian families with us to experience it.  We created a few new games to share with my side of the family this Christmas.  And, our gift exchange didn't go as planned this year.  By the time we finished hosting parties for refugee families, as well as our own families, the kids and I realized we'd run out of time to buy gifts for each other.  

The kids were mortified by it, sheepishly telling me my gifts weren't going to arrive before Christmas.  I started laughing, and I said I hadn't gotten them anything either. No big deal, I told them, we'll do our gift exchange whenever everyone's Christmas gifts get here.

And so we did.

It never would have happened if I'd been married.  But, we never would have had Ukranians here if I'd been married, we never would have gone to candlelight services, and I most certainly would not have ordered Christmas dinner catered.

But, I did.

Sometimes Plan B is just as good as Plan A, and I'm starting to believe it can be even better.  I know God never wants divorce, but I also know that His plans for my life didn't stop when my marriage failed.  I am not meant to be miserable every holiday season because I am divorced.  Christmas is about Jesus, not about me.  

And for that, I am thankful.

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