Updated: Mar 24, 2019
I don’t move in country music circles so I’m late to the party when it comes to the song “Love Triangle” by Raelynn. The song gives voice to a childhood perspective of her parents’ divorce. For me, two phrases that describe our dilemna of loss stand out: “Then I run to him, Big hug, jump in. And I cry for her, Out the window” * and “Then I run to her. Wrap my arms, around her skirt. And I cry for him. Out the window” *
This conflict is reminiscent of Elizabeth Marquardt’s words in her book Between Two Worlds: “I missed my mother and father terribly when I was separated from one of them—and I was always separated from one of them.” **
Feel familiar? The Christmas season brings this loss to a head for many adults with divorced parents. It’s a time when togetherness oozes from every commercial and show. Songs like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” *** fill your ears at the coffee shop only to remind you your home dissolved years ago. However, as the clouds of sadness move in we have a choice; run away and deny the clouds exist, or turn towards them and feel the loss. After years of denial, I finally did the latter.
Accepting the gift of grieving I used busyness as a Band-Aid for making it through the Christmas holiday, but a few short years ago, I decided to embrace the loss.
First, I admitted I missed having my dad at Christmas…a lot.
Second, I allowed the sadness to come. As a guy, crying is not my thing, but holding back tears when a Christmas movie triggered my thoughts of post-divorce Christmases was energy draining. Allowing the tears to come was cleansing and energy boosting. Who knew? (other than the female half of the human race.)
Then I took my pain to the Lord. I found praying specifically about what I missed very helpful. “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock (Jesus) that is higher than I” ****
Lord, even though Mom did a great job with Christmas, it wasn’t the same without Dad. I really missed him playing his favorite Christmas music.
Next came focusing God’s blessings—my wife, my kids, my home, our holiday traditions, and so much more.The last thing I did to embrace the loss was commit to strengthening my marriage so my kids would never have to choose between Mom and Dad. Taking in a marriage seminar, reading books, listening to teachings all help.
This process wasn’t easy. The first couple Christmas seasons were actually worse. But with persistence and lots of prayer an amazing thing happened. The Lord took the sting out of the loss, and I was able to fully enjoy Christmases. It turned out, grieving was a wonderful gift!
* Nicolle Anne Galyon, Racheal Woodward, Jimmy Robbins. Love Triangle, 2016 © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group ** Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds, (NY, NY: Crown Publishers, 2005), 8. *** Kim Gannon ,Walter Kent, Buck Ram, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, 1943, Decca Records. **** Psalm 61:2b, KJV