Photo by Jacob Lund

Expectation vs. Reality. I write A LOT about this!!

I had always imagined what it would be like to get married and have a family; my reality was that I married a man with three children from a previous marriage. Coming from a very sheltered upbringing, the reality of this situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved my new family the best I could, but the situation was tumultuous and unconditional love and acceptance was often hard to give. With each difficult situation we faced, my defenses and self-preservation instincts were building a wall between me and these children.

Then came our first “ours” baby. After about 2 years of step-parenting, I had a brand new, completely perfect little boy. Despite every natural induction method and old wives tale we followed to convince this little boy to be born during a non-kids time, he came at the start of a “kids week”. I was overwhelmed and terrified. The first few days, even weeks, I was on a mission to let no one touch my little gift from heaven. I already had three hurting and broken children – this brand new “ours” baby was not going to know the pain and struggle that divorce brought into our lives! It was us against the world (especially those living in our home!) and self-preservation was now my way of life.

This month my little baby turns 1! Sometime between June 23rd of last year and today, my heart began to change in ways I’m only now able to describe. It was a slow realization of the Father heart of God- the tender heart of a parent towards children who need His help, His guidance, and most of all His patient love.

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to let your guard down around the children who bring the most heartache and difficulty- whether step, adopted, or your own rebellious children- God has a place on His big, daddy lap for you. A tender place for you to receive from Him and learn from His heart. His children range from childlike adoring faith to hard-hearted haters, but His love abounds to all the same.

I’ve read about God as a Father, I’ve heard countless sermons preached on Father God, yet there was still a gap in my relationship with Him and with these children. I wanted God to be proud of me- I wanted to give Him reasons to be near. After all, my relationship with my step-kids was always at its best when we were all getting along and trying to impress one another. But life with an infant challenged that thought process… sleepless nights, screaming car rides, teething fits- they have all made me love him MORE. The rough moments (ok, days and weeks) opened my eyes to see his need for me and the easy bits of giggles and smiles are just the cherry on top. The rough times with my step-children are a window to their need for love, stability, and consistency while the ease of giddy conversations and fun times together are the product of commitment during the hard times.

If you could jump into my imagination for just a moment, I would say that my shining moments as a Christ follower- the moments where people see Jesus in me- aren’t the times that God relies on to get him through my rebellion or disobedience. My temper-tantrums don’t put Him at a distance, they magnify my need for Him. Just like a smile from my infant doesn’t make me love him more or a mountain of messy diapers make me love him less; neither gratitude nor disrespect from my teenage step-son should change my commitment to caring for him.

To think that I still doubt God’s love for me and His desire to be invited into my life… if He, in His perfection, has even an ounce of the love, compassion, and commitment I have for our “ours” baby… there is so much that He can teach me about cultivating that same kind of relationship with the rest of my blended family. I’ll put in writing what I can only assume many step-parents have wanted to shout from the mountain tops – LOVING STEP-KIDS IS HARD. While loving your biological children is literally second nature, loving step-children can sometimes be as difficult as mixing oil and water. But, thankfully, the Bible is FULL of examples of God as a Father, so this is one of those times where parables and analogies directly translate. Just like reading a bedtime story to your children, take some time to read His book for you as a Father tucking in His child at night. Set aside some time with God your Father and ask Him about His heart for your blended family.

 

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