Yes, my divorced Catholic friends, we are once again up against the holiday season, a time where many people just want to go to sleep and wake up on January 1st when it’s all over. They’re quite happy to miss all those not-so-subtle reminders of what they’ve lost due to divorce. From Halloween to New Year’s Eve, the reminder – the rub – always seems to be more acute than any other time of year.
So, as the holidays approach, I’d like to stand on the sidelines of your life and be a bit of a cheerleader for you as you struggle through your challenges and fight the good fight because frankly, I’ve been there and I know how bad it can be. As you face all those reminders that will occur throughout the next several months, I would like to offer you some practical wisdom you can apply to your situation, and that is this simple point: when you’re lonely and feel like a fish-out-of-water, a misfit, leftout, or misunderstood, remember how precious you are to God.
Catholic mystic Gabrielle Bossis, a French woman living in France from 1874-1950, kept a diary of her interior conversations with Christ that later was published and titled, He and I. In it, she recounts one particular day when she had this beautiful exchange with Him:
March 1 – In the Rhone Valley. At the station.
You’re watching the direction in which the train will come. That’s the way My eyes are fixed on you, waiting for you to come to Me.
Can you imagine that? Can you see that in your head? Our loving Savior searching for you, waiting for you? Incredible! Your divorce may leave you feeling extremely alone, even in a crowded room, and when that happens, just close your eyes for a moment and contemplate this description of how much God wants to make you feel loved; how important you are to Him, to the point that He is out there, searching for you. He wants to spend time with you. Another illustration of this incredible fact comes also from Gabrielle’s conversations with Him:
March 20 – Rome. Easter. The Minerva Church. I was thanking Him for His suffering.
Never will your thanks be filled with as much love and joy as I had in suffering to save you.
A magnificent thought, right? Contemplating the sheer fact that not only does God love you in a way no human could ever love you, but that He impatiently waits to be with you can help you rise above the commonly noted depression and negativity that comes with being divorced during the holidays. Spending time with Him in prayer and contemplating how precious you are in His eyes can bring great peace.
When you feel you have lost everything and are left empty-handed; when it seems as though the winds of gossip and criticism are howling in your direction; where those you love have left you alone; there’s one thing that can’t be taken away from you… a treasure far greater than any other… the interior freedom and peace that only comes from the love of God in your life.
“Be not afraid!” as Pope John Paul II put it, for in this state of loss, you are wealthier than any millionaire if you are connected to Christ. By joining your heart to His, He will give you everything you need: courage, strength, patience, love, forgiveness… nothing will He deny you if you should only ask Him for it. And after you have fought the good fight, He will reward you with the eternal treasure of life with Him in heaven.
Tomorrow is the Feast of All Saints, also known as All Saints Day, and we will celebrate all those who have gone before us to heaven – the ones who are cheerleading for you and are there to help if you ask for help. They fought the good fight and won and they did so while enduring difficult lives and painful suffering; much like the suffering you’ve endured because of your divorce. Which means that, if they can do it, so can you!
So hang in there, friends, and don’t give in to being depressed. Don’t allow the world make you feel alone, like you’ve got no one to love or be loved by. Spend some time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, holy mass, or wherever you can put yourself in His presence and give Him the opportunity to show you how much He loves you.
Thanks to so many of you who have written to me. If you haven’t yet and would like to, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.