Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent In A Broken Family

The holidays are upon us and I recognize this heavy weight on my soul...It's grief calling again.  I smile on the outside but the grief over my broken family is a deep ache, down to my core, that doesn't let up.  This is the first holiday that my husband lives apart from us...

Just when I've been sitting well with the suffering these past few weeks, I stumble and fall now. Grief is like that. Things like holidays can trigger loneliness or sadness and the pattern continues with two steps forward, one step back.  The pain ebbs and flows. As the waves wash over, I blink and hang on.  The memories haunt me as I wonder about love.  I mourn the wedding vows. I crumple to my knees by the side of the bed where we held hands every night.

The very honest thing is that it's devastating to have a broken family during a season that once held unity and togetherness.  It hurts, terribly.  Wait, I recognize this pain.  I've been here before, aching over another husband's tragic death, clinging to our baby boy during the holidays. Never would I have dreamed I'd be here again.

This time I'm alone in our family home with 4 more children.  Their Dad still sees them but emotions are strained and our home is empty of him. I know it, they know it. It feels like a punch to the gut as I watch them hurt from the severed bond of sacred familyThis is the exhausting reality of our daily life and magnified now, during a season that should be filled with our family in tact. 

I've learned that it's not a pity party to talk about loss because the acknowledgement of the hurt enables us to work through it, heal, and keep moving.  Otherwise, we get stuck. Right now we need to keep our souls moving towards the light...Namely towards the star of hope.
Lord, help us focus on this family, the Holy Family...This is the real family that our Holey family should cling to.

The hard reality is that separation (or divorce) are different kinds of death. All people in the family are suffering and grieving.  We didn't ask for this and we have no control. Highlighting the death is the fact that it's even more awkward for those who encounter us.  The dear souls who acknowledge the "death" and offer their hearts to us are treasures.  I am grateful for those who check in, knowing the treacherous journey we are on.  Unfortunately, many people avoid us which compounds the sadness. This stirs a calling in my soul to write about it. I encourage others to reach out and not shrink away from the victims of broken families.

It's exactly this that brings me to Advent in a broken family.  No one feels quite as broken if they have hands to hold on to. 
I catch a glimpse of four long faces fixed upon me for guidance...How are we going to do this?

Yes, let's think about how we're going to do this...What I know for sure is that we are not alone.  There are countless people suffering this time of year except now it includes us. A plan comes to my heart...I hope this plan also helps others who might be suffering during this time of year.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I propose four pledges or goals for our Broken Family Advent.  They represent the 4 weeks that we should consider an opportunity to carry the weight of grief to the manger on the road to Bethlehem.  As the Holy Family surely encountered...The road is not easy.  We know this by now...The best rewards are never easy.  Yet, we will walk it, we'll keep moving, and we'll get there!  We will arrive with hearts ready to peer over the manger, gazing into the face of a baby Savior.

The Broken Road To Bethlehem:
We will read these on the first Sunday of Advent and each week, holding tight to the hands around us. 

Week 1. I vow to reach out to those who might be suffering.  We are the body of Christ and when we give, we receive.  This is the best gift of the season.  Let us look for little ways that we can reach out and pray for others, even if we cannot afford to give with money.  We will keep a list of prayer intentions by our wreath. 
Getting out of ourselves, gets us into the manger.

Week 2. I vow to think of all those "others" when I'm worn out from the toils of the day, the season, alone with the weight of my grief.  In these moments, I will light the candles on our Advent wreath in the honor of all the others who suffer.  The silence of my soul will echo prayer and unite my broken heart with theirs.  Let me remember that light casts out darkness.
Let us close our eyes and remember the Star of Bethlehem... A beacon of hope that beckons.

Week 3.  I vow to be thankful.  Here lies the best glimpse of the season and it begins in the manger.  If I truly love the Christ baby who came to relieve us of this earthly suffering through His birth, death, and resurrection, I will pause each day in thanksgiving.  Let us share the thankful things in our lives each week with one another.
A Savior's birth is the dawn of gratitude...The bridge from death to life.

Week 4.  I vow to hold baby Jesus.  Let us practice holding Him this last week of Advent.  If I look into His eyes, I will see the whole world...He came for everyone.  Let us see ourselves, along with all those we struggle with, in the eyes of this Godly baby.  Let us see that he loves all of us.  May this help us grow in love and reconcile our sorrows.
From the crib to the cross, He shows us how to live and love.

Advent in a broken family will be an arduous walk to Bethlehem but the joy at the destination will be worth it. 
May we all be reminded that the peace of that baby King is the best beginning and the happiest ending.
+Please keep our family in your prayers. If you are all together as a family, please treasure that...I would have never dreamed this would happen to us. If you are experiencing brokenness, please let me know how we can pray for you. Leave your requests in the comments or email me. It would be a great gift to offer up my suffering/our suffering to pray for you+

I vow to remain here.
Family At The Foot of the Cross

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