getting through this

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Filed under: life | 19 Comments »

Holidays are crucial during your healing process. How you handle them can determine a big chunk of this next year.

If you’re anything like me, the markers within the calendar year bring with it the scent of the year prior. When you smell a new season, feelings of last year’s season come with it. Holidays, particularly Christmas, are extremely traditional. If this is your first Christmas without last year’s traditions, then this will be hard for you.

I’m telling you this ahead of time because you may be too wrapped up in nostalgia to really hear me in the next couple of weeks.

If you have suffered a loss this year, then be ready for the emotional battle you’re about to face. You may already be sensing it well up. It’s too easy to go backward in your healing progress when you’re feeling particularly alone and vulnerable.

I have a new puppy. He’s a 4.5 month old boxer who has ingested at least four of my girl’s little socks over the past two months. I know this because I have to clean up his mess whenever they end up coming back up. I know when he’s eaten a sock because he doesn’t touch his food for about a day. He just lays around like a sad, sick little guy.

You would think that the experience of being sick and having to go through the purging process would teach him to stay away from the tempting little socks, but I guess they’re just too irresistible.

One of the times I had to clean up his mess, I used a dirty hand towel. When I was sorting my laundry the next day, I wasn’t paying attention and the dish towel folded with his mess was sitting at the top of the pile. The little guy found it and proceeded to do what dogs do. Thankfully, I was standing nearby and stopped the nastiness.

(I’m sorry if this is making you sick. It makes me a little sick writing it.)

Like a dog that returns to his vomit,  is a fool who repeats his folly. -Proverbs 26:11

You’ve ended a relationship with your escape. Whatever it was, you have made some progress. Whether the progress is just you considering it, whether you’ve put on your shoes, or whether you’ve walked out the door, you have made progress.

This is your chance to make it through something that will cause you to be so much stronger than you are right now. Imagine relief from the relentless temptation that haunts you like a demon.

I want to give you some tools to make it though this. The thing that has worked for me is putting my focus on developing new traditions.

Traditions get richer with time. Memories fatten traditions and make holidays, like Christmas, become what they’re really about. The first year will seem a little rigid, but will soften and form to fit you every year after.

This is your opportunity to use all of your lessons, the things you have said you would do different, and do them different this time. Everything is new. You can pick any paint color you want.

If you are focusing ahead, you will have less time to focus behind. Every time you find your mind sinking, you can start focusing on the recipes, the table settings, …whatever it is. I’m giving you busy work. But, it’s busy work with multi-dimensional meaning.

Make a new Christmas mix CD. It takes a lot of time if you do the research. There are some great old and new covers of Christmas songs. I’ll make a little playlist and adjust it as I find songs to add. I’ll post it to this blog so you can check it out anytime you want.

When you get through this holiday, you will have accomplished something that makes you feel more solid inside. Things will still hit you hard enough to knock the wind out of you, but those times will come further and further apart. It doesn’t take too long before you start feeling freedom and hope.

Start journaling your thoughts instead of going back to your mess. It’s old, friend, it will make you sicker this time. We forget things as time goes on. This will help you see God in your story a little better. You’ll be able to see His knowing eyes at points in your timeline where you didn’t think He was.


my boxer, Nigel.

Do you have any song recommendations?

Have you been there and have any bits of advice you could add?


19 Comments on “getting through this”

  1. 1 Janine (txmomx6) said at 10:43 am on December 9th, 2011:

    Serena, Thank you for this post. This will be the 4th Christmas that my children and I will "celebrate" after my husband died very suddenly the week before Christmas in '07.
    As each Season approaches I hope that it will be easier to get through …. and that I'll feel more joy, especially for my children. But that, for most widows, is an almost impossible task. I say "almost" because I know it's not totally impossible. I know that God can perform amazing miracles in the human heart, soul and mind. I've seen them. I've felt them. I've had them.
    My days are not as black as they once were. In fact, I have more good ones than bad (thankfully). And I know that the joy of Christmas will come. I just have to be patient, and keep my focus off of myself.
    It helps when I read loving, healing words like yours. So thank you. Thank you for sharing Love, Grace, Truth and Peace. Thank you for allowing God to use you …. to touch others like me.
    My recent post Calmer Waters ….

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 8:02 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    Your loss is heartbreaking. Thanks for showing a piece of your healing heart.

  3. 3 Lori said at 11:05 am on December 9th, 2011:

    I’m reading your book right now and I LOVE it. Oh man, it speaks to me.

    “You are Mercy.”

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 8:02 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    I'm glad you told me. 🙂

  5. 5 Eileen said at 11:07 am on December 9th, 2011:

    Great thoughts, Serena. I recently thought about and then wrote about the first Christmas without my mom. It was 20 years ago, but it still comes to mind, especially around the holidays. When traditions change it can be a difficult transition. So thankful God promises to walk with us through it all.

    One of my favorite Christmas songs: O Holy Night (love so many versions) and I love God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen performed by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. Beautiful!
    My recent post Driving Slow

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 8:04 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    You must have been so young….

    Thanks for the songs, Eileen.

  7. 7 Lillian said at 11:56 am on December 9th, 2011:

    Good thoughts. I try to focus on the unchageable relationship Christ has towards us. This is my anchor. Philippians 3:13-15 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 8:07 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    It's hard to remember that God is unchanging when everything is and has.

  9. 9 Lisa B Ball said at 12:23 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    song suggestion: on youtube Drew Holcomb and The Neighbor's "Baby it's Cold Outside", You should check out Drew's band for the conference in Nashville. Drew and his wife live there. They are from Memphis. His family has a great testimony. Anyway the link: This video is great, don't miss the shot of the headstone of Jay, Drew'syounger brother born with Spina Bifida. The others in the video are family, Nancy and Hamp his parents. This was filmed in Memphis, at least most of it.

  10. 10 serenawoods said at 8:08 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    Thanks, LIsa. 🙂

  11. 11 you know who said at 1:04 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    Last year, almost no one sent Christmas cards to my folks. This year some have begun to arrive, addressed only to my mom. I realize, that they want to let my mom know they love her. I realize that maybe they want to hurt my dad. They don't understand, that they have taken something that should be a delight and made it into something that causes my mom to get sick to her stomach, makes my dad believe he continues to deserve whatever they have to dish out. Just one more way to make the holidays sickening… I ache from the pain of this right now.

  12. 12 serenawoods said at 8:13 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    I really don't understand someone going to the effort to be so blatantly cruel. That's more like harassment. I'm sorry, i do know who. It's not right.

  13. 13 Jen Wagenmaker said at 1:26 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    What a powerful and encouraging post Serena. The only thing that kept me going when I was going through my divorce a few years ago was when I would think on the future. Sure, I had days where I would focus on the past and on how ugly things had gotten but when I would make myself journal and dream, my future seemed promising. I knew God was doing something. I can look back now and see what He saw then.
    My recent post

  14. 14 serenawoods said at 8:13 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    Thanks, Jen. 🙂

  15. 15 just me said at 2:08 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    I ended an affair this year. I can already feel the emptiness. I don't know if I would be tempted to reach out to him, but after reading this, I'm afraid I would have.

    Thank you. This was for me.

  16. 16 serenawoods said at 8:20 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    Thanks for telling me. 🙂
    Maybe it would help to know that affairs are rarely about the other person. They're about people using each other as escapes. Use the busy work as your escape.

    It was for you.

    Go make a playlist. Mine isn't very good yet.

  17. 17 Kristina said at 9:06 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    This is my first Christmas since my husband and I separated and it's already shaping up to be an interesting one. Your post bolstered my courage in defining new traditions for my children and I. Thanks for that. Awesome song, Fairytale of New York City sung by the Irish Tenors. LOVE.
    My recent post 305 ish days {10 months}

  18. 18 serenawoods said at 7:04 pm on December 10th, 2011:

    awesome, Kristina. (not the separation part. the courage and song part.) 😉

  19. 19 Tawni said at 11:53 am on December 15th, 2011:

    I remember around Thanksgiving you said in your blog post titled "It won't always hurt," (it felt like you were talking directly to me), to "Bake something as a testament to the fact that you’re still alive." Breathing life into something else is healing. It takes the focus off of me and my circumstances. It's been 2 years since my "normal" Christmas with my ex husband and 2 daughters. I left. I had the affair. I'm the one that ripped our family apart and now we dwell in the ripples of that tidal wave. For so long I've woken up with an image or a voice of that fatal day. It paralyzes me. It takes everything within me and only through the grace that's been poured down on me for me from Christ to set my mind on other things. Some days are worse than others. Some days are better. When I feel stuck, I pray and I turn to scripture, focusing on God's promises for me. I listen to my favorite group, Hillsong, or I read your blog or the blogs of other great encouragers. I was in a desert, but in the desert I learned some hard lessons. The desert was my "school" for a time. It's now up to me to put those lessons learned into practice and not live in constant regret. My new husband and I have 4 kids between the 2 of us. His are with us for various times during the year as they live out of state. Mine are here half of the week and the other half with their father. We don't have a picture perfect family. It's segmented. But what we do have is Jesus Christ in the center of our home and our marriage. The ripples are starting to calm down. We still have a ways to go though. Creating new traditions and new memories are also healing. The soul is so deep though. Memories of the past are strong. Focusing on Jesus and His love for me to heal the pain and to pass that love onto others is where I'm headed. I don't know how to live without that anchor.

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