I used to think that the most important choices I made were the big life choices: college, marriage, career, house, family, finances. But as I continue to learn lessons through this season of life, a big lesson hit me today while baking cookies (boxed, sorry mom. I’m not that good…yet!). It was a similar lesson to the age old lesson of actions speak louder than words. It was a lesson in choosing how I think about life right now.
Confession: I have been dreading the holidays this year.
As the most “joyful” time of year approaches, I know there is going to be pain and sadness as I continue to grieve what I thought my family was supposed to look like. As I approach the holidays, I was approaching them with the mindset of a single mom grieving the loss of not only a marriage, but a family.
But that approach was a choice I was making.
I constantly talk (and write) about choosing joy. But I don’t know that I always put it into practice.
Today I realized that yes, there is going to be sadness as I go through the holidays for the first time as a single mom. But oh my goodness, there is going to be so much joy and so much love too.
There is going to be joy as we board a plane next week to see family and spend time in the sun celebrating milestone birthdays. There is going to be joy watching Owen learn the traditions and festivities of Christmas at church and with our family. There will be joy spending time with old and new friends and family members. There will be joy in the celebration of faith and love and family.
I am surrounded by love and joy every day. But I was making a choice to focus on what I was missing. I was making a choice to focus on my pain instead of my joy.
My mom has always reminded me that how we react to life is a choice. I have listened to those words for as long as I can remember. But today I realized that how I choose to react to my situation is not only a mindset like mom always said, but requires action as well.
To give myself some credit, I have been doing some of the action part. I have been working hard to take care of me and Owen physically, spiritually and emotionally with things like exercise and faith and therapy and time with loved ones. But each day over the last 5 months I continued to focus on how sad I was; I continued to focus on what I didn’t have.
So today I am working to shift my focus. Today I not only want to choose joy, but act on it. Owen and I have so much to be thankful for in our lives. And even though our family didn’t work out the way any of us wanted or planned, we have so much love in our own version of family.
Divorce is not something you ever want to think about for your family, or something you ever want to go through. But when it happens you can choose how you react. After the shock and sadness wear off, you can choose to fight for joy.
It may not always be clear what to fight for right away. For months it feels like it is simply survival. And that is okay. Thank goodness for grace. But time helps. Faith was a huge help for me. Community was and is an essential part of my healing. And love won every time I felt knocked down.
Oh, and forgiveness, so much forgiveness is needed; forgiveness towards myself and towards Owen’s dad. Because he is human too. We all make mistakes. And we all deserve forgiveness and grace.
I know I will still have moments where I am angry and frustrated and feel defeated. But when those moments happen I hope and pray I can switch my focus to what is right in front of me: a healthy son, my house, my job, my family and friends, my own health and on and on and on.
So today I choose joy. And today, when I say it, I finally mean it.