Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas for the Divorced Family

I used to get so excited about Christmas in my younger years. I would wake up in the early hours of the morning, grab the pillowcase of presents that Santa left us and crawl onto my Mum and Dad's bed waiting patiently with eager eyes for the moment they would wake up and allow us to delve into them.

Fast forward three years from our last Christmas together as a family and at times I still long to do that very same, simple thing.

My parents are divorced now, they separated three years ago, it was something that shook mine and my brother's life immensely. We both were left to deal with it in our own way fighting the feelings of abandonment and rejection away with our own methods. For me, it was a time where I had no choice but to get closer to the Lord, a time when He was carving me into strength and hope, in His name only. It was a time when I would have no choice but to press into Him because in Him I found no rejection. Life was happening, it was crumbling and falling apart but He was there.

Now we have arrived at our first Christmas where they are officially divorced and not just separated. It was now that each parent had to make a decision on where they would like me and brother to be and at what time. We are both old enough to make our own decisions and each gave us options and we would have to weigh them out. This was hard, there's a lot more to consider when deciding on who spends time with who. You have to take into account whether one will be alone on certain days, whether it was easier for me and my brother to separate and how each parent would feel if we did so and so with so and so.

I wanted that postcard Christmas, where families get along, are all surrounded by each other, playing board games and wearing cheesy Christmas jumpers. Eating food to the point of lying horizontal on the sofa and then watching Christmas movies while playing with presents, sat in front of the fire listening to Frank Sinatra.

Reality is, all of those things sure, they might happen but what if Christmas isn't like that for you. What if it's filled with loneliness and unhappiness reminding you only a time that carries remnants of a broken family and broken expectations?

There has been one thing that has brought me through every Christmas where we had to break up the day to spend time with each parent. One thing that has kept me going amidst the feelings of abandonment and rejection. One beautiful, crucial thing that has kept me together and far from falling apart while watching families that are complete. One thing that makes me grateful and thankful for life and the very idea of me even breathing.

For me, Christmas time is ultimately about Jesus. He is the reason for the season, He is why we live and move and breathe. Keep this at the forefront of your mind throughout this season even when all other expectations fall below what you wished for.

Jesus is more to me than just a baby born in a manger, a baby we sing carols about and occasional learn about at Christmas and Easter. He is my everything.

So what's like Christmas for the Divorced family?
It is a time to overlook past hurt, pain and suffering. A time to look forward to God moving in your family situation if we simply just keep our faith in Him. It is a time to ask the Lord for healing and restoration in relationships and broken expectations, a time to heal scars and wounds from words and pain. It is a time where the Lord longs for you to press into Him so he can bring comfort, peace and joy in this beautiful time remembering the Saviour of the world and how glorious He is.

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