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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Belonging in Blended Holidays...

Jacob laid his head on a stone pillow in a desolate land, escaping his enraged brother.  Hearing God’s promises his words were these, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

He is in the places where we often feel like He is absent and we are left alone.

Abraham Longing for a son… Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness…God delivers.
Abraham about to sacrifice his son… Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness… God delivers.

Mary about to have her first child, spoken and gossiped about in hushed tones by the on looking neighbors…. Surely our God was in this place of barrenness… God SURELY Delivered!

The ache of feeling displaced and like you don’t belong, memories of holidays past left broken and empty…
Surely the Lord is in this place of barrenness… and He will Deliver.

Tears flood my heart as I think of those days of feeling like I was a visitor in my own home, a stranger sitting on the fringe of someone else’s memories.

“Remember when we…” my mind drifted off as they conversed happily about memories and moments that didn’t include me. 

It happened a lot.  Pictures, recollections, laughter and smiles… I politely listened until one day my husband mentioned to his children..
“Remember that time…” Before he got another word out, I gently said… “No, I don’t”
It took him some time to figure it out, but we try now to recall the memories we are making together.  Not that we forbid the kids to recall their childhood, we just try to point them to places where everyone was included so no one feels left out on either side.

Absent children, holiday traditions that perhaps have been carried out by an original family for decades suddenly fade into a dream like state, and we’re left to wonder if those things ever existed.
The ache and loneliness of the new reality is not that different from laying your head on a stone pillow in a desolate land.

The bitter cold bit into my cheeks as I walked alone down the row of houses lit with Christmas lights.  Through the windows I could see families together, making their memories- everyone seemed to belong.  It was as if I could hear my heart breaking like thin ice underfoot.

I missed feeling like a real family.  I missed the day where there were no others invading our space either in a physical sense or plaguing memories.  No shared children.  Our traditions were our traditions and we had formed them over years of togetherness. 
I felt displaced and separated from everything I had ever known. 

I wondered if there would ever be a time when I would feel this intimate togetherness again…  I would, but it still would never be like those years when we existed as an original family with no invaders.
This is a process of grieving.  But I promise you God is a restorer… He never seems to restore in the ways we would see or maybe even like, but it becomes better for us in the end, if we just trust Him. 

Remember to be sensitive to each other.  Gather traditions that you enjoyed from your previous families change them up a bit, this can help the kids feel like not all has been lost as well… reclaim those traditions for your new family.. 
Create new traditions- maybe there are traditions that your children’s friends do that they would like to try- make them yours!  Have a family meeting to discuss what kinds of things you would like to include in your new family as far as holiday traditions go.  Maybe it’s going to the tree lighting and having dinner in town.  Attending the Nutcracker every year, or perhaps serving in a local shelter.  Maybe the kids have always wanted to hunt down and cut down their own tree. 
This gives everyone a place to belong, a place to be a part of something bigger than the mourning of what has been lost.  It provides a place for reclaiming holidays for something new and exciting where no one is left out.  A place where our God surely is… a place of healing for the broken family.

Holidays are difficult for the newly divorced, and the blended family.  Over the next few blogs, I am hoping to address some of the common issues of the situations that we find ourselves in as we live in Step-ville. 

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