The Blessing Wall - A Story of Being Single During the Holidays
by Pam Carlson-Hetland

I flipped the calendar page and was instantly caught off guard by a cozy family scene. Tears filled my eyes as flashbacks bombarded my emotions. The calendar picture represented my past--not my present. I was confronted with yet another hurtful aspect of being divorced during the Holiday Season. Turning away from the photo, dread for the upcoming weeks wrapped around me.

But that still, small voice began to challenge me. "Are you going to wallow or walk through?"

"What?" So surprised by that thought going through my head, I answered verbally. Pondering the question, I went about doing routine chores yet trying to ignore the upcoming holidays.

How like God to continue the conversation with my devotional reading that night as I read: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV).

"I get it, Lord," I said aloud. "I can wallow in all the sadness and loss or I can walk through it. And you just promised to be with me when I walk through those tough times. OK...but please show me how to do that."

Hope emerged the next day. I started making plans for baking, decorating, and shopping--all things I had tried to avoid the year before. As I cleared off the table in the tiny dining area of the condominium we were now living, I realized why I intensely disliked the mirrored wall behind it. The small tiles reflected everything but in a distorted fashion. It was a reminder that my life felt fractured and disjointed, as well. Instantly, I knew that both the wall and my mindset needed a new focus...and I had an idea.

My young daughter and I giggled together as we cut out large, colorful shapes from construction paper. We were planning a party--the first big party in our new home. It was to be a 'celebration of life'. Everyone who had helped us move the year before was invited along with our new neighbors and old friends. The anticipation was exhilarating as we cooked and rearranged furniture to accommodate dozens of guests in a small space.

Party night arrived. My daughter played the perfect hostess. Greeting each guest, she had them choose a construction paper leaf or star. We asked our guests to write down something they were thankful for or considered a blessing. Then they were instructed to tape their "blessing" to a mirror tile on the wall.

The evening was a glorious success. Tantalizing smells of home cooked specialties filled the air. Laughter rang throughout our normally sullen home. Hugs were freely given and received. It was late evening before all the well-fed, happy guests bid their goodbyes.

The next morning, with bright sunshine streaming through the windows, I found myself standing in front of that transformed wall. There once had been a wall which reflected a fragmented woman and home, but now it was a colorful display of personal notes of thanksgiving. I read every leaf or star. Some made me laugh, some made me cry. I read of praises for healing after surgery and restoration of relationships. There was thankfulness for newly acquired jobs, new homes, and new babies. I chuckled over the children counting hamsters and hotdogs among their blessings. But the ones that I treasured spoke of God's healing, of enduring friendships, and answered prayers.

We kept those colorful notes of praise on that wall well into the New Year. I read them often to remind myself to count my own blessings instead of my losses. It was encouraging and uplifting to read of how the Lord works in the lives of believers. With this fresh focus, the holiday season--though very different than those of the recent past--was not as difficult.

The Lord walked with me through deep waters of crossing into new territory of being a single mother. He showed me how to take something that reminded me of loss and turn it into a blessing. He continues to do so with each new challenge in life.

Pam Hetland is a Christian, divorced, mother of a teenager, and an administrative assistant.  She writes with a heart for those who have experienced pain and loss in relationships.

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