Holidays and Divorce {And a Prayer}

I scroll through Facebook and notice two posts – almost in a row.  Two moms saying goodbye to their kiddos today as they take them to their dads for Thanksgiving.

My heart whispers “thank you, God, that I have my kids.”  Then, a glance at my phone.  I see their dad’s name on my screen, and know…because I have them, their dad doesn’t.

Friends, it doesn’t feel like winning. It breaks my heart.

Holidays & Divorce

My kids would like to see both parents on all holidays.  Our extended families – my kiddos’ grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins  – would like my kids to be at all the celebrations.

But, they can’t be.

And, it’s ok to grieve that.  Whether you’re a child of divorce, a parent who was wronged, or a parent who chose divorce for whatever reason, it’s irrelevant when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays.  Easter and maybe even Halloween.

Holidays are hard.  Heck, every other weekend is hard.

It’s plain hard to watch the two you gave birth to pack a bag and walk out the door on Friday nights or for summer vacations or on Christmas Eve.

For the families affected by the brokenness of divorce, please know you’re in my heart.  I am sad for you.  For those who watch grown children depart for dads.  For those who won’t see their children. For those who will attend eight dinners to please all parties.  For those who feel obligation and not love.  For those estranged from loved ones because hurt and anger stand in the middle.

For all of these…I pray…

Lord, hear the hearts of your sons and daughters. Remind us that we are first and foremost yours. And in the brokenness of family, we thank you for your unconditional love and our place in YOUR family.  

As moms and dads say goodbye to their children during this holiday season, remind them that it’s only a day and only for a time.  Give them peace.  May they feel your arms wrapped around them.  Help them to love one another well, finding other ways and times to give thanks and celebrate your birth. None of this easy, Lord. saying the words won’t make it so.  We can’t force our own joy.  But, we can choose You and choose love.  

I pray you make us brave, Lord. Open our hearts to new traditions. Help us to remember the old while embracing the new.  May we carry one another’s burdens in this season and always. May we see one another as image bearers, understanding the hurt of our “ex” as we also move forward and celebrate with those around us. Be the light in this darkness. Carry us, Lord.  

We give thanks for our children.  We give thanks for the many who love and care for them, even if and when it can’t be us.  We give thanks to you, Lord, for giving your son on a cross, for the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrating love for all mankind.  May we find joy in this day regardless.  May we feel your perfect peace as we give thanks in all circumstances for your glory.  AMEN

And, friends,  if you’re not affected by divorce this holiday season, could you give grace and love to those who are?  Invite them for dinner.  Check in with them even if they say, “no, thank you.”  Choose not to stand in judgment.  Remember, we serve the God of redemption.  He can do anything with anyone regardless of sin or brokenness – i.e David and so many others in the Bible.  And that redemption is available for me – for my ex-husband – for all.  There’s no picking and choosing according to our culture’s standards.

I love you, friends.  And I pray as you eat your meal today that you remember the thousands around the world who aren’t with families.  The thousands who do not have food.  The thousands who do not know Jesus.  Those who are alone and forgotten.  Embrace the beauty of those before you – even if life is hard – and savor each bite you take, remembering that He is good all the time.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. James 1:17-18

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i]have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

Much Love and Happy Thanksgiving,


  1. Sarah, thank you for being the voice of those who can’t speak yet. Your wisdom and experience are blessing many. I was 14 when my dad left our family and the first holiday we remnants faced together was Thanksgiving. I remember the difficulty of it till this day and still have trouble with the holiday. God has used it to help me be a more sensitive pastor. And is using your life to help people find encouraging words in their own pain. So keep speaking. We are listening. GP

    • Glenn, I can’t tell you how much this comment means to me. I didn’t know this part of your story, but it gives me great hope for Hannah and Owen who were close to that age when their dad left. It gives me hope that they do not have to become a statistic; that they can become servants of Him – just like you. God does use these things to make us more sensitive Christ followers, doesn’t he:) I pray you keep shepherding from that place where you understand suffering in ways others can’t. It’s such a source of grace for all. Thank you for your kind words. They’ll be held close always. Many blessings to your family!

  2. And now abides faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love. May it be so. Love to you, Sarah.

  3. Quite right. I had a relative once tell me that it seemed the only thing I thought about was the moving and swapping of custody shuttling. Very true. But it isn’t a choice. It permeates your whole life. The worry for your child or children, the guilt, the sadness, the feeling of failure, and yes, the judgment, whether blatant or perceived. Nora Ephron wrote a piece about how the situation informs the entirety of a divorced parent’s life. What you wrote, though, is helpful to shift focus back to Him and away from temporal circumstances.

    Sarah, you are in my prayers. Thank you for sharing.

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