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Friday, November 29, 2013

After Divorce: A Black Friday Resurrection


In the United States, today is Black Friday.  It is the day after Thanksgiving (only now, too many stores start it ON Thanksgiving….I boycott those stores, myself), on which businesses try to lure customers by offering special one day only deals.  Or, as friend told me the other day, it is the day when, after having given thanks for all the stuff we have, we spend the next day going out to buy more stuff!!  However, from the business side, supposedly it is the day that consumer spending enables stores to shift from being “in the red” to being “in the black” by starting to turn a profit for the year. 

Similar terms are used to describe the day the stock market tanked, the several times that has happened.  Or, I know of an place where new administration came in and fired a lot of long term employees so that cronies and friends could be hired in their place.  Other long term employees saw what has happening, and chose to slip out the door by choice a bit later, and were also replaced by cronies.  Those employees referred to that day of firing as Black Friday, and you may know of similar usages yourself.  But in divorce, Black Friday may be applied to other experiences.

Instead of seeing Black Friday in the positive sales kind of way, some of us may apply the term to the day we were served divorce papers, filed for divorce, were thrown out of our homes by our spouses, or when the divorce became final and we grieved the end of a marriage.  That date may be indelibly marked in your mind when the calendar rolls around, or, if you are like me, you may not be so good at remembering dates, but can certainly recall the awful experience.  (And, maybe you also relate to a subsequent time period that some of us call, “The Great Depression.”)  But like Good Friday of the Easter Season, which some traditions refer to as “Black Friday,” out of these awful times, resurrection can come. 

Financially, the stores talk about the day they turn a profit.  Many divorced people experience great financial upheaval, even taking bankruptcy as they seek to pay off their attorney fees and manage the bills on their own after the court ordered financial alterations.  (By the way, I have yet to meet a person who feels like the financial court orders were “fair.”)  Some say that it takes as long as ten years to regain your financial footing.  And I know it can take even longer, especially if an ex has a special affinity for going to court.  In that case, you may be like the businesses, and rejoice when your Black Friday comes, and you are finally able to make ends meet, and feel a bit of the stress lift as your financial world finally gains some equilibrium.

But for me, Black Friday sales are a reminder of how far we have gotten from the core of what Christmas is all about, and the same can be applied to Hanukkah.  Hanukkah is a reminder of a time when God made special provision for his people, revealed that he was with them at a time of deliverance through the miraculous burning of the temple menorah.  But as with Christmas, shopping has almost taken over, and Santa is on every corner with reindeer, while those outside the church clamor for celebration of Winter Solstice instead of Christmas.  The Christ child in the manger is all but forgotten.  And yet, the greatest Christmas present ever given was when God gave his son, born in a manger, to come as our Redeemer, dying on the cross for our sins that we may live eternally if we choose to accept through faith the gift he purchased. 

If you are struggling in a time of divorce, the Black Friday deals may be very tempting, as you seek to manage Christmas on a very tight budget.  But I want to encourage you to allow the financial limits to help you restore a more meaningful focus to the holiday.  

Let go of the rush to buy the perfect and most expensive gifts, or even to compete with your ex in what kind of gifts you give.  Instead, find a new way to restore in your celebration reminders of the true meaning of Christmas, the most perfect and timely and beautiful and precious gift ever given.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”  

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