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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When Harry Met Sally..... and your Divorce!

Harry And Sally and Holiday Friendship

The holidays are just around the corner, with music, garland, candles and party horns.  For the recently divorced, they are also filled with lonely days, broken dreams, painful reminders of love lost and scheduling nightmares.  For those whose lives have moved on after divorce, new memories and traditions have often replaced the old, creating a new overlay of feelings of hope and new life.  But even after children have grown and moved away, schedules and relationships can still be hampered by time demands and expectations by one’s ex.  This time of year, filled with joy in so many homes, can be a season of heartache and loneliness for many, not only the divorced, but those now alone through widowhood as well.   I’d like to pass along a couple of suggestions for the upcoming season, whether you are the one divorced, or if you have a friend who has experienced it.  I have been reminded especially of this as I learn of several in my social circle who are experiencing divorce in this time. 

My first suggestion addresses the area of loneliness.  Just because you are now “alone” and your spouse has gone his or her own way, does not mean you need to be lonely.  If you ever saw the movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” then you may recall the arrangement the two leading characters had with one another, that if they ever had a holiday…notably New Year’s Eve, in which they were going to be alone, instead they would find a way to be with one another as friends.  Thinking ahead about those times when you may be alone, and especially feeling the loneliness that could come with it, can help you prepare alternatives to going through uncomfortable times of loneliness.  Probably a clear example could be that if you have younger children, it would be wise now to start considering plans for the time they will be away from your house to visit the other parent.  And, if you would learn their lesson, one of the best ways to plan is to arrange to be with someone else who will be facing potential loneliness. 

Let me add, as an aside, that some would warn that you make those plans with someone of the same gender, lest you end up creating confusion or giving false impressions with your friend.  Personally, sometimes I found that to be true, but there were other relationships in which a member of the opposite sex and I had clear discussions about our friendship and expectations, and so understood we were not interested in dating.  In any case, however you choose to handle it, I encourage you now to identify some of those times that might feel particularly lonely or painful, such as sitting alone at a Christmas Eve candlelight service, and begin making arrangements to avoid unnecessary hardship.

 The other suggestion I would like to offer is along the same lines, but with a different twist.  If you choose to not put yourself in loneliness producing situations unnecessarily, then consider going one step further. 

Instead of focusing solely upon how YOU will feel in that time, is it possible you could find another person or persons who have needs that you could meet by using that time to minister or care for THEM?  

In other words, look out for somebody ELSE’S best interest, needs, or feelings.  Be the one who helps somebody else conquer their loneliness by offering your friendship.  I can guarantee you our world is full of people who long to know that somebody cares.  Some of them live in nursing homes.  Others work in sheltered workshops.  Still others are just walking out of the divorce court themselves.  And others have just left a loved one in a cemetery.  YOU could be the key that could make all the difference in another person.  If you begin to look for people who need a friend, and for ways to make that difference.  You may find your holidays transformed into something more special than you imagine.

Oh, and by the way, a wise friend reminded me during my lonely days that though I might feel lonely, I was never truly alone.   Because we have a God who promises to never forsake us.  Don’t forget to include Him in your holiday plans, too!

TL:dr  Holidays can be lonely, but less so if you plan ahead and involve yourself with others

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