Unless you just arrive here from outer space, you’re probably aware the holiday season is practically upon us.
The holidays are supposed to a time for family and loved ones and joyous memories of “firsts.” The first Thanksgiving Day hosted by newlyweds, baby’s first Christmas, the first gathering in a new home with new friends, and so on.
But there is another type of “firsts” that mark separation rather than togetherness. The first Thanksgiving without a husband in 30 years, the first holiday season without a child, the first family gathering as a divorcee. These can be the hardest days and weeks of the year for many people celebrating “firsts.”
If this is you, my heart goes out to you.
The loss of a loved one, a friendship, or relationship brings the most painful reminders. As a single woman, many holidays have come and gone with painful reminders that I will be alone at the end of the evening after I say goodnight to the married couples and their children.
Gah! If there was ever a time for Taylor Swift’s song “Shake it off”…this would be it!!
OK – yes, it can gloomy and yes, it is really hard to stay positive. But who ever said staying full of joy was easy!? It takes dedication and lots of prayer, but you can do it! YOU. CAN. STAY. POSITIVE. I’ve done it. AND I’ve seen it done.
A friend of mine lost her mother suddenly two years ago. And now, circumstances prevent her from being with her remaining family. But the attitude of joy she exudes blows me away.
“Whenever I start to cry and feel sad,” she says, “I start to thank God. I thank Him for all the wonderful years I had with my mom. I thank Him for not taking her when I was young, I thank Him for the memories and her strength and everything she taught me. And I remember that I will see her again in heaven, and I thank God for the too. And before I know it I am praising God and feeling so full of joy and happiness. And I feel so blessed. God is amazing! He is amazing!”
And I just stare at her with my jaw on the floor. This is such an amazing testimony of faith. And most importantly, such a beautiful display of gratitude!
Forget about celebrating your “first” holiday marking a separation. Start celebrating the wonderful memories of the past by giving thanks!
“Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6
Thanksgiving is the most important ingredient to peace! Don’t let the story of the American Indians and the Pilgrims blind you. Yes, that’s where it’s roots lie, but sometimes it prevents us from truly experiencing the act of giving of thanks! Prevents us from identifying the gifts we have been given in our own lives.
Like my friend, seek out the blessings in your past and current situation like a bloodhound and focus on those blessings. Keep your eyes on those blessings. Never lose sight of them.
Pining after the blessings of those around you is tempting, but it will blur your focus.
When you put your blessings behind you, that phrase on your car’s side mirror becomes applicable “Objets are closer than they appear.” Your blessings are closer than you give credit! Be careful not to let your perspective get skewed.
Set your blessings in your direct line of sight. Stick to them. Stick to God.
If you have nothing else to be thankful for, be grateful that God has never left you or forsaken you even when men and women may have mistreated you, or you have mistreated others.
“The Lord is near to those who are broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Thank you, Lord! and Amen!