When life’s circumstances push you out of the nest, lean in. Lean into the free fall as an opportunity to learn to fly, and trust the Lord to help you land.
I remember my first holiday season as a single parent. Surrounded by ringing bells and colorful bows, the only box I wanted to open was a box of Kleenex. Ever been there?
You Are NOT Alone!
We desperately wish it were the most fun and festive time of the year, but some Christmases aren’t fun and festive at all.
Neighborhood lights are twinkling, kids are singing, Santas are ringing holiday bells, but these sights and sounds only magnify our pain.
Those who have faced loss or who live with unresolved family conflict or who are haunted by childhood physical or emotional trauma often dread the holidays.
Christ’s life and death was required so that we have eternal hope today–a beautiful plan of God’s glorious grace and abounding love.
When the kids were little, they would mark up all the catalogs to make their Christmas wish lists. It seems like yesterday. I remember their giggles of anticipatory joy, crossing off each day on the calendar until Christmas day FINALLY arrived.
Something about kids and Christmas . . . it’s almost magical.
But those magical moments changed the year I began to shop for my son with disabilities. He struggled with sounds that were too loud or when the weather was too cold, and all those Christmas catalogs packed with toys for typical kids meant nothing to him.
He couldn’t conceptualize the meaning of Christmas, which completely disrupted the traditions we had enjoyed for years.
It is difficult to navigate the holidays—or any major event—when a loved one in the family is incapable of understanding and experiencing the delight of it all.
Finding gifts for those who have . . .
Your story isn’t complete, so give God your life and remember He loves you–He still has a few more chapters to add to your story.
I never thought a washing machine would be on my 3-year-old son’s Christmas gift list. Christmas came three weeks after my son was diagnosed with autism and global developmental disability—what used to be labeled as “mental retardation.”
While he wasn’t yet talking, he made his wishes very clear. Every time—I kid you not—we went to a place that sold washers and dryers, his inner radar immediately directed him to the display models.
He (and we) would check to see if they were “working” or “on display.” He checked them out top to bottom, inside and out, as if he was the manager signing off on selling the items.
We moved from washers and dryers to vacuums, then fans, wheels, and pouring water. Most who understand the autism spectrum know that machines that spin and turn visually stimulate parts of the brain and are irresistible to our loved ones with autism and sensory challenges.
What’s a Parent to Do?
Pain has brought me to a dependence on God I would have never known if given relief. In spite of the pain, He has been and continues to be faithful.
Too often, we pastors tend to wear our smiles upside-down. The burdens of ministry—especially during the busy holidays—often cause our joy to droop into deep-wrinkled frowns.
In case you need a little help with this assignment, read through this psalm . . .
With empty hands and broken hearts, there is purpose in it all. If nothing else, you have to believe there is purpose in it all.
Years ago, shortly after Thanksgiving, I learned my son had been horribly assaulted. Suddenly, all thoughts of a joyful holiday vanished. The last thing on my mind was giving thanks.
Though the trees displayed the colors of autumn, my heart was the shade of deepest sorrow.
I remember two specific things about the holidays that year:
- It was the first holiday season my husband and I had shared as a married couple. With our new blended family of five kids, I wanted to make it super special . . . until I found out about my son’s assault. What timing!
- The deluge of police reports, doctor’s exams, new diagnoses of PTSD, moderate traumatic brain injury, tics, flashbacks, and nightmares smothered my ability to do more than show up and breathe.
My most beloved holiday season became scarred by an irreversible, deep wound that affected my whole family.
How Do We Move Forward?
How do we move forward when life hurts? That’s a question we all ask when life forces us to find a “new normal.” Some of us want to wait out the hard times because we’d like to believe that time heals all wounds.
Unfortunately, that’s a huge lie. Another way we try to move forward is by glossing over the pain with a thick coat of denial. We varnish over our pain by presenting behavior that appears happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes that looks like . . .