This is my tenth Christmas as a stepmom; thirteenth if you count the years before we made it official (and I do – we worked hard for them). Over a decade later, I will be the first to tell you that my marriage and stepfamily are far from perfect; in fact, I could (still) be the poster child of what not to do as a stepmom.
Would you be surprised to learn that I have seriously considered calling it quits more than once over the years? Please don’t misunderstand: divorce is not to be taken lightly, and (without launching into a theological lesson) simply not part of God’s perfect plan. I share this because there are stepmoms out there wondering if they made a mistake when they married a man with kids. You are not alone. Hard seasons cause us to take a hard look at our circumstances, but we need to be intentional about discerning which voices we are listening to…including our own.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The passage beginning in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is one that is familiar to most of us, but did you notice that the very first way love is described is patient? As someone who believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, this is no accident: marriage is in itself a lesson in patience. You see, we often race towards the altar, eager to start our lives together – only to discover that the real work begins after we say “I do.” If you and I don’t keep marriage in proper perspective (God’s perspective), we risk growing dissatisfied or disappointed when the hard seasons hit.
I can’t tell you if your marriage was outside of God’s plan for your life…that’s between you and God. What I can tell you is that at those times I wanted to run, not walk, away – it was because marriage was demanding more of me than I was willing to give. More time. More effort. More transparency. More vulnerability. As stepmoms, we have to resist the urge to shift blame for the problems in our marriage to outside influences, whether its a disrespectful stepchild or an ex-spouse without boundaries. Those factors only reveal the cracks in our stepfamily relationships…they’re not the cause.
A new year brings with it the opportunity for fresh perspective: even if your wedding wasn’t a part of God’s plan for your life, your marriage now is. You made a covenant before God when you married that man, and you two are in this together. There is no one who knows exactly what you are going through – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and that is a gift. God did not leave you alone in this blended family life, stepmomma, and He never will.