The Christmas Gift

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This year I thought I was on track for Christmas.  It’s been almost three years since R. left and we’ve achieved an amicable relationship.  He is settling into his new marriage and I was getting on with my life. After two years of procedures and surgeries I am pain free and able to enjoy so much more. And yet,…

During the divorcing phase you always seem to be scrambling for papers, and waiting and waiting, and applying for documents, balancing statements and wondering how to do more with less than half of what you had.  I felt like Indiana Jones running from the huge round stone that would crush me.  At times I thought it might even be a relief, but one day it stops. Sort of,…  The divorce is final and you grope around for ways to make the little broken bits fit and yet you don’t quite have the interest.  You know if you sit too long you will never move again so occasionally in spastic fits you snatch at something so you can feel like what you are doing is actually living. Eventually it becomes steadier,…more or less.

For me the circuit breaker became travel.  No I didn’t win the lottery but I had accumulated air miles and I am all about the art of making every dollar work hard. Eventually colour seeped back into my world.  It was a different world but I was learning its customs. In time I started to become a native and realized I needed to take other new comers by the hand and show them around.  I saw that God had another land for us to inhabit.  Not familiar but home, …in a way.

When I came back from a trip with my mom this November the first thing I heard was that my son was OK and my ex had lost his job.  My stomach clenched.  Our support, medical and insurance would be gone in a few months.  I fell back into that pit.  Everything spun.  Fear ripped through my new strength and shoved me on my haunches.  My bones were so new and fragile, my soul was spun sugar and I waited for everything to snap.  And then,…

There was no time to focus. I had handcrafting sales to prepare for, birthdays to celebrate, Christmas to decorate for and a journey to Bethlehem that only I could take. My heart needed to be called home.  I laughed I prepared, I baked, I cleaned, and I even entertained with a minimum of anxiety and internal  hysteria. We all set the bar differently,…

Tonight I took my son aside and tried to map out sharing arrangements for Christmas. Where would we be?  Who would get the choice parts of the holidays? When would we travel? What parties did he want to be at?  What were the youth events?  How were we going to manage the expectations?  What did he want for Christmas? Could he makes lists for everyone?

In the midst of all that there was the unspoken anxiety about losing the house, the income and my medication. Chemo. isn’t cheap.

My son came and put an arm around me. “Mom what I want is a stress free Christmas.  You and I have such a good life together.  Promise me you will have fun. That is what I want. I want us to enjoy the holidays and not worry about the calendar.  You’ve done enough. You are enough.  You are Christmas to me”.  My son had just given me his list.  He was asking for peace on Earth and goodwill towards all men, whatever comes our way.

He was asking for joy to the world. He wants a silent night, a holy night. He is saying come all you faithful. He is telling me not to be afraid because there are glad tidings of good news.

I really needed good news. I realized I really hadn’t stopped running in over three years.   Here I was asking for him to tell me what the perfect Christmas gift would be and instead he showed me and placed it in my lap.

No matter whether your Christmas is red and green,or blue or bathed in heavenly light I pray that you find a gift in your own trip to Bethlehem. with love, D.

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Love Connection

I sat at the Starbucks gripping my green tea lemonade and waiting for my blind date. Well it wasn’t exactly blind as I’d seen a picture but we’d never met and we’d never even talked. It wasn’t exactly, in the strictest sense of things a date, as much as a coffee meeting.  I have to admit that I’d been the one to initiate things.  I felt it was time and there was a lot riding on this.  I knew what I needed to do but this was so uncomfortable.  I double checked my reflection in the window.  My makeup was looking a little tired,my hair was a little flat and I was a little bloated but I sat up straighter and thought about what I’d say. Then the door opened up.

“Hi, oh my gosh you are gorgeous”.  Oh no I did not just say that. I scrambled.   “I’d seen a picture, your wedding picture but it doesn’t do you justice”.  I could not believe I just said that to my ex husband’s new wife. Seriously?  What about “Hi. It’s nice to meet you.  How are you doing? Thanks for having coffee with me.” as opposed to being a complete goober and blurting out the first thing I could think of to this utterly beautiful petite woman who drifted in, long beautiful tresses draped over her adorable outfit.  I knew before she said anything that she was also a lovely person.  I’d heard she was sweet but I needed to lay eyeballs on the woman who was now my son’s stepmother. She confirmed that opinion by just running with the conversation as if it was the most normal thing in the world for her new husband’s ex to comment on her looks and make reference to the wedding.  She earned definite points for graciousness.

After she got her coffee we talked.  My ex and I got our final divorce decree in July 2011. In December 2011 he met this woman, but February he was talking marriage and by August they were married.  None of this sat well with our son.  I’d warned my ex that our son needed time to get to know her and build a relationship but somehow he decided after a couple of encounters to announce their engagement and then asked my son if it was OK, sort of like when someone lights up and asks if you mind.  Unfortunately it wasn’t going well.  The troubling thing was that my son likes everyone.  There were times at school when someone might give him a rough time and I’d be ready to take it to the principal’s office and he’d say no. “Mom if they are acting out it means they are probably upset about something. I don’t want to make their lives worse.”  “Really?  I mean good for you” (even though I was itching to give them a swat).  This was the first time he’d refused to like someone.  He wouldn’t say her name, or talk to her more than was necessary.  I was all kinds of worried about this one.  As a past medical social worker I had a dozen scenarios playing in my head and none of them good.  Here is where love comes in.

The easiest thing in the world would have been to sit back and let things play out.  I had been translating between son and dad all their lives.  Ever since the divorce I’d been trying to keep these two together.  What I knew was that God designed my son to love.  Anything I did to interfere with that was harmful to him.  In loving my son I had to do everything in my power to keep the love flowing between the two of them.  Please know that my feelings have thrown every justification at me for being a righteous jerk, but my son’s heart is more important.

Now I had a new challenge.  I needed to help my son love his new stepmother.  It didn’t take any time to see what a pure spirit this woman had. I saw how she loved my ex and would have his back. I saw her heart as a mom for her own kids.  There was only one thing for me to do.  When I got home my son was still awake.  “Hey sweetheart. I had a great time.” I said. ” No seriously. I really like her.  I want you to know I feel really free.  I think she’s a good woman.”  My son hugged me.  “Love you mom. Thanks.  It’s going to be OK” and I knew it would be.

Does this hurt? Yes.  My heart aches when he is away. She will be easy to love.  I know that God designed his heart big enough to accomodate more people than me. Sometimes love hurts but in Christ it is not an option.  May God help us all to love way beyond what we thought possible. (Update in the “comment” section). D.

Sticks and Stones

Today I lied to myself and I lied to my son.

“Sweetheart mom in not feeling well.  Could you phone auntie Tammy and get her to take you to church?”.  I told myself that the headache I had was possibly becoming a migraine and the stiffness in my hips would make it just too much to get through a church service today.  Slowly the bedroom door closed and it would be one more Sunday without mom. Usually it was because of illness but not today.

I got up and as I started to move around I realized that the headache was only minor and the joints were not as swollen as I’d made them out to be.  I was in pain but the truth was that I was depressed.  I’d felt it growing over the last few weeks and had tried to combat it with getting out and doing some walks, talking daily to friends and making sure I washed my hair, did my face and got on with my life. Slowly I have felt the fatigue shrouding me in a mist that has been pulling me away to where even just the act of getting ready in the morning leaves me exhausted.  I am still able to break through and be grateful for the beauty of something as simple as the apple festival I went to yesterday.  It was a real challenge to make myself go but I know I had to counter balance the urge to cocoon.  It was a gorgeous fall afternoon and the setting on the river bank and all the people and children bustling about was really wonderful.  You felt connected with real life, but it was life you could observe and interact with only as much as you were willing.

This morning, the thought of a room full of worshippers, the singing and all the spiritual, emotional and physical engagement was too much.  I have such a wonderful group of people but I am so afraid of the depression being too close to the surface and the emotions churning around. I knew that lifting my face to God would have me in tears.  I do not want to cry.  I have no reason to cry.  OK we all have reasons but I want to be normal.   After going through a divorce and a couple of years of surgeries and ill health I want, more than anything to find normal.  I don’t want my normal to be sadness.  I want all the sadness gone and a clean slate, new skin, a fresh beginning.

In the back of my head I hear the echo of one divorce care leaders’ statements, “Divorce leaves scars that never go away.”  I was shocked.  I did not want to hear that. I don’t want scars. I don’t want sadness.  I want,…. I don’t know what I want but I know I am tired.

A study came out that the brain cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional pain. I saw that in play when my son was in football. A boy would miss a pass or mess up a tackle and would fall.  He would grab his leg or lie on his back and either wince or not move.  It wasn’t intentional. He felt pain but as the medic explained, the humiliation or upset sometimes translated into the boy thinking he was physically hurt. He wasn’t faking. The old saying about sticks and stones is wrong. Names can hurt you.  Sorrow can ail your bones.

This last month (months, years) has been hectic with good and bad things.  As I go through this season I will label the pain for what it is.  It will pass. It has before and it will again.

My prayers are with all of you as you go through your seasons.

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