Perhaps the hardest time of the year to be standing for your marriage is during the holiday season. Not only is it a time that makes you feel more alone than usual, but it is also filled with memories of much happier times. Difficult as they may be, though, the holidays do not need to overwhelm you. There are many things you can do to walk in victory during these challenges days.
First of all, focus on what you do have, not on what you miss. Your life is filled with daily blessings from the Lord and as you allow those blessings to loom bigger in your life than the loss you are feeling, you will begin to develop a much healthier attitude. I just got an app for my phone that is called a Gratitude Journal. Each day I can write down what I am thankful for that day. There is rating system from one to five stars and a place to put a special picture from that day. It is fun to look back over a time period and see all the special ways that God blessed me.
You don’t need a phone app to do the same thing. Each evening write down the blessings of that day. When you face a particularly challenging moment, pull out your journal and give thanks for all that God has done for you. Can you walk? Can you talk? Did you enjoy the warm sun on your face? Did you see a beautiful flower or enjoy the smile of a stranger? Did you have food on your table? Did your child hold your hand? Every day is filled with God’s special moments of blessing. We just need to focus on them.
If you have small children, remember that this is a very precious time of year for them. (Actually it is for the older ones too.) Do not let your emotions override the joy of the moment. When I was a little girl we lived with my aunt and uncle while my dad was stationed in Korea. Just before Christmas my uncle died. I missed him very much, but what I remember as even worse than his death was that the next day the tree came down and Christmas ended. I couldn’t understand why all the presents were put away and all the lights and decorations were removed from inside and outside of the house. When I asked why we weren’t having Christmas, the adults reacted as if I were disrespectful of the dead. As a child I missed my uncle, but I could not make the connection between his death and the end of Christmas.
Your children already miss your spouse. Do not make Christmas a time of mourning or drawn out discussions of what it would be like if he or she were home. Help them enjoy the moment. Infuse the time with love and joy and if they want to talk about their missing parent make sure you keep it a discussion of their feelings, not yours. If they cry, comfort them with hope and peace. You will probably shed a few tears of your own, but try to keep the focus on them. They do not need to feel responsible for your joy and peace.
Remind them that Christmas is all about Jesus and that He will never leave them or forsake them.
If time with your children is divided between you and your spouse, send them as ambassadors of love to the other home, not as spies to the enemy camp. The pure heart of a child, unhindered by adult motives or directives, can touch the hardest of hearts. Trust the Lord to cover them and keep them. And if they come back home with glowing reports of the fun they had, remember they are children and Christmas is a very special time for a child. Do not make them feel guilty for enjoying Christmas, no matter who they were with.
Why not start some special new tradition that you and your children can enjoy together? Service to others is a wonderful way to take your mind off your own needs and it’s a terrific way to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. Volunteer as a family to help with a Christmas outreach. Incorporate each child in age-appropriate activities. Teach them to reach out from their own need to help meet the needs of others. That is a lesson that will last them a lifetime.
If funds are a challenge, check out church Christmas programs in your area. Most of the time they are free to the public. Watch a good Christmas movie on TV, pop some popcorn and snuggle together in blankets and pillows and have a family movie night. Make gifts for each other instead of buying expensive presents. Or offer a gift of service to each other. Even the smallest child can help a sibling pick up toys or some other easy activity. Have older children read a story to younger ones.
While I was standing our daughter made three cassette tapes for her younger brother who couldn’t read. She read a book on each tape and then placed a matching colored dot on the book and the tape that accompanied it. She not only read the story, but also told him when to turn the page and made comments about things in the book that he liked. For almost two years those were his favorite tapes and books. Plus it gave us a sweet keepsake from their childhood.
There really is no end to what you can do to overcome holiday challenges. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your heart filled with His promises and His joy. Remember the story of Christmas is all about God’s promises fulfilled. It is about a couple who overcame the challenges of travel right before the birth of their baby. It is about a baby born in a stable because there was no room for Him in the inn. It is about poor shepherds who were chosen to be the first to hear the good news. It is a story of faith and power. It is a story about God standing in faith for those He loves. Love, Marilyn
If you have ideas or suggestions for standing during this season, drop us a comment that we can share with others.
“The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2
“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10