An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

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Are you living every day feeling like something is missing? Maybe it is.

Nobody but God can qualify you for the work He has for your life.

Nobody can take away your job but God. If you turn your back on Him He may let you have your way though. But remember His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. So what I know for certain is that if you walk away from your calling, you’re missing out on what you were created for which leaves you feeling pretty empty.

And as for people who do evil saying it’s in God’s name – all I can say is I’d hate to be standing in your place after this earthly life ends. I’m glad I won’t have to see what happens to you for claiming to be a Christian or using God’s name to steal, kill, and destroy.

Contrary to the way the world has taught us to believe, you do not need a thousand hours of college or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to do the job God’s got for your life.

A degree does not make you more valuable in God’s eyes.

You are valuable just because He created you.

I’m writing this because I know many people who feel held back and for many it’s because they didn’t finish college so their lives are passing them by because culture told them they were “less than” and they are believing that lie.

Believe it no more.

I’m not saying college isn’t important for some things. It is. Surely there are some good things about college but many times we’re just aimless young people who haven’t had people in our lives helping us discover our talents and guiding us in the path God has for us. (I do know many people who spend college years studying the art of partying more than other subjects. You can find anything you’re looking for in just about any situation whether it is sex, drugs, stuff, pain, or wonderful friendships and other healthy things.)

Do not write me a hundred pages saying I’m a college hater. I’m not.

I went to college.

I went to a Christian college.

That does not make me a Christian.

It does not make me better than someone.

It does not make me smarter than someone who did not go to college.

That means I can pay money to sit in classes and listen to teachers for many hours.

 

What I AM saying is that college did NOT qualify me for the calling God has put on my heart.

 

Your mom doesn’t qualify you for your calling.

Your dad doesn’t qualify you for your calling.

Of course they can encourage you (or, unfortunately, hold you back) but God qualifies you.

Teachers don’t qualify you.

Your best friend doesn’t qualify you.

Many times preachers or elders at church aren’t even realizing (or supporting) the talents you have or the calling God’s laid on your heart.

Your husband or wife can’t even qualify you but you can be supportive of each other as you serve God in the way He’s planned for both your lives.

Time and time again all through the Bible God does not call the “qualified” but He qualifies the called.

Are you living every day feeling like something is missing? Maybe it is. Ask God what’s missing. He is THE ONE to ask.

He restores what was stolen. In my life it was my innocence and my confidence one evening while playing hide and seek when I was 9 years old.

I did not even know my confidence had been stolen until He gave it back to me about one year ago. I lived about 35 years without my confidence. I know we can go through life missing stuff and not realize it. I’m living proof of this.

Ask God to restore what was taken from you. You may not even realize what is missing yet. He and only He can restore this for you.

There’s a great big world who needs you to do the job God created you to do. He will pick you up and give you a firm place to stand. He will give you all that is needed to do the job He’s called you to do and He opens doors that no man can shut and shuts doors that no man can open.

Is He calling you? You don’t have to wait for anyone else to validate you. Ask God what He wants you to do today. And keep asking every day. He will lead you.

 

 

Train Wreck (aka Me)

When I see the pain in the world and the choices people make heading in the wrong direction it’s just too much for my human heart to handle. I’m so glad I don’t have God’s job because there’s no way I could do it.

I remember a sweet friend, years after we’d met, describing to me the way she used to see my life back then. She exhaled, “It was like watching a train wreck.”

She just lived life with me and she didn’t hate me. She loved me and was my friend when I needed her most.

I had no idea she saw my life and the things I was doing as a train wreck. I just knew she called me her friend.

People are hurting. Everywhere. Every day. People are hurting at work, school, maybe in your own home, in your neighborhood, church, and think about all the people we sometimes overlook like when you’re just out running errands; at the bank, checking out at the grocery store, getting coffee or lunch, or maybe in the car beside you at the stop sign.

What if you prayed over each person connected to your life every day?

What if you did?

In the morning say a prayer over your day asking God to touch and bless the lives of all the people you see, talk to on the phone, and even your online acquaintances (and don’t forget your enemies.)

They just need you to be kind and pray for them and ask God to lead them out of the dark tunnel (and everyone has dark tunnel times.)  They don’t need you to hit them over the head with a Bible. They need to know what love looks like in every day life.

Just call or text. Send an email when they come to your mind. Just tell them you were thinking of them. Take them coffee or chocolate. Just say, “I love you; but not in a creepy way. I love you with a Jesus kind of love.” Or you could say, “I love you more than cheese.” (Because that’s A LOT!)

It’s not like people go around with a sign saying, “Hey, I’m missing something and you know what that is. I need Jesus but I don’t really know Him and because of whatever reasons you aren’t sharing Him with me so I’m still stumbling all over myself and crashing into everything. Please stop staring at me and talking about me and start lifting me up when you pray. I need help.”

It’s okay to need help.

Jesus never, EVER said to live this life on your own. He says to lean on Him, follow Him, speak His name and He will be near you, fix your eyes on Him, and that He loves you no matter what.

Praise God He’s bigger than problems, broken relationships, the world, and life, itself.

1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.