Re: Divorce + Christmas
Christmas 2021 is now in the record books. De-decorating (new word to add to Webster in 2022) took all of fifteen minutes. That included bubble-wrapping the wise men, manger inhabitants and the Willow Creek Angels. The new tree grew in our hearts when collapsing it was even easier than popping it up! It fit perfectly back in its’ flat square box.
Christmas is hard when you’re divorced with kids. This was the first year JP didn’t spend the day with his dad. His choice. We visited with his dad and grandparents a few days later - he just didn’t want to celebrate in the big crowd of family. JP’s relationship with his dad is something he has to navigate. I can’t do it for him. I can offer encouragement and provide a safe space for him to unpack his emotions. He’s on his own when it comes to what he’s comfortable taking part in. It’s too heavy for a fifteen year old boy. Heck, it’s too heavy for an adult.
I’ve written about the “commercialism” surrounding Christmas and how it ruins my mood. This year, I discovered that might not be entirely true. I think my mood is ruined because I’m not living the life I planned and the holidays highlight all the hard parts.
Christmas wasn’t terrible. Watching your kid struggle just puts a damper on things.
Christmas (somewhat) neatly packed away, our thoughts quickly turned to post-holiday plans. Anticipation mixed with anxiety preceded a major milestone.
JP went on the winter retreat with his group from church. I still can’t believe it! They spent three days in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I was way more nervous than him. Most of JP’s panic comes late in the day or during the night. I got a room in the same lodge in case he needed me. I hear you calling me helicopter mom - I’m not sorry and I don’t care. Staying in the same town made more sense than driving two hours one way when/if he had a panic attack. Please note: I would drive across the world to comfort him if he needed me. Many of the young people backed out at the last minute, making it the perfect size group for JP. He sent the nightly “these lights bother me and the music is a bit loud” texts, but had a ball.
Since JP was very young, I have sung David Crowder’s How He Loves to him when he feels anxious at night. Sometimes we listen to it on YouTube. The last night of the conference I got a text message from him with a photo of the screen, “it’s not a coincidence they’re playing this song.” Turns out, Crowder was the band playing. “It’s definitely not a coincidence,” I said, “Oh how He loves you!”
That’s right. The ONE time JP musters up the courage to attend a conference, Crowder “just happens” to be there.
Why do I worry about anything when that’s the kind of God we serve? He’s a good, good Father.
The path I’ve walked the past nine years (how has it been that long?!) has not been pretty. I am now able to look back at where I began and say with confidence that I am thankful for the experience. Like gold, our faith is refined through hot flames.
Hard times. Heartache. Pain. Loss.
There are two methods that are used when refining gold. The two most common types are high temperatures and chemicals. The method used is dependent upon the quality of gold you are working with and the desired level of purity. In ancient times, refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove impurities.
The good news is, if you are a Christian, God is the craftsman sitting by your flame the entire time. He stirs us, using the fire to rid us of impurities. The process may be long, but when it’s complete, we are changed. Our faith is purified. We are more beautiful than before. Brighter. Shinier.
We are refined.