When I was eight years old, a friend of mine whose parents had gotten a divorce told me how great it was to have two separate Christmases, one with each parent. Double the presents, double the fun, right? For an eight-year-old, most definitely.

But even at that age, I knew the significance of having only one Christmas. I knew how special it was to have parents who were still married.

Fast forward a few years. My mom and I were sitting in the car, waiting to pick up my brother, DJ, from youth group. She told me that she and my dad were separating. A couple days later I came home from church to find my dad had moved out. My world as I knew it was shattered.

Despite their unfortunate decision to divorce, both of my parents made sacrifices along the way that kept my brother and me as their priorities. There’s no masking it: divorce is devastating to all involved. There are days that I still get sad that my family is not one unit. Even so, there are several ways I am truly thankful to my parents for the choices they made despite their decision to live separate lives.

1. Thank you for remaining geographically close.

Many people look at divorce as a fresh start of sorts. They move states away from their ex. Out of sight, out of mind. But then their children end up frequenting airports and airplanes to spend time with someone who used to sleep down the hall.

We didn’t have to ride in an airplane to see either of you. You knew that stability and easy access to both parents was necessary to give us a continued family foundation.

2. Thank you for keeping our faith in God a priority.

You kept us at the Christian school we had been attending. You knew our godly teachers and friends would help us navigate the confusing waters of having divorced parents.

Many of those friends are still my best friends. Many of those teachers prayed over me, reached out to me and cared. I can still remember one sixth-grade teacher, who I really leaned on, writing me a note with her phone number, telling me I could call her anytime. Underneath her phone number was simply, “Love you.”

That simple gesture meant the world to me. And that teacher is still a dear friend of mine to this day. Who knows if teachers at a new school would care enough or even know to reach out to the “new girl,” who had parents going through a divorce.

Blended & Blessed: a one-day stepfamily health summit.

3. Thank you for posing together in one single picture at major life events.

It is so special to me to have one picture with both of you at my high school and college graduations. We’re all in one picture at my my wedding too

You may not have loved squeezing in the same picture at the time, but you loved me enough to huddle proudly around the new grad or new bride. And that love is portrayed in my wedding album.

Now that I’m a mother myself, I look forward to the day I can show those pictures to my children, showing them a picture of both Papa AND Mimi posing with their parents.

4. Thank you for sitting together in the labor and delivery waiting room for four hours.

Those four hours were extremely long for me for obvious reasons. I’m sure they were long for you, too. However, you put aside your history and sat there chatting for hours. You probably can’t remember what you talked about, and it probably wasn’t anything profound. But you were willing to sit together waiting to meet your new grandson.

Your love for me and the excitement of welcoming a brand new member of the family into the world made it worth it. Having you both there to hold Knox just minutes after he was born is a memory I’ll never forget.

5. Thank you for sitting at the same table for family meals.

Many people are shocked when I say that we all go out to dinner, or one of you will come over to the other’s house for a meal. But when both your children and their families live out of town, time together is scarce and sacred. Thank you for making the most of those moments with us.

I will never take for granted that you love DJ, me, our spouses, and your five grandkids enough to spend time in the same space. Instead of us forcing us to choose who to have dinner with each night, you allow us to choose you both.

You talk to each other. You ask questions.  And you honestly care about each other. Life is not the way it used to be for our family. But it makes a potentially very awkward situation comfortable and enjoyable.

Divorce doesn’t have to be the end

Do I wish your divorce had never happened? Absolutely. But life isn’t perfect, it isn’t always fair.

What matters is seeking the Lord for a way to still honor the relationships He has given us in spite of difficult situations. And I think that God smiles down on us every time we share a meal all together.

We are still a family, all of us. And I believe God’s love is displayed when you each choose to love your family more than your own comfort.

As your daughter, your love for me is evident. You cared for me, you invested in my life, and you reminded me that my identity was not in the circumstances surrounding me. My identity is in the Lord, and who He created me to be.

I am incredibly thankful for the life you provided me, despite “home” being two separate houses.

I love you, Mom and Dad.

Copyright © 2019 Jenn Grandlienard. All rights reserved.

Jenn Grandlienard grew up an East Coast Philly girl, but now loves calling the Midwest her home. She lives in Xenia, Ohio with her husband, Stuart, two sons, Knox and Zeke, and pup, Stella. Jenn and her husband work with Athletes in Action, a ministry of Cru that teaches college athletes what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. She loves to read, work out, laugh really hard with friends, and spend time with her husband and boys.