There is a lot to be excited about in getting married again! Living life with somebody, having somebody to help raise kids, having two people with a license to drive, having somebody to cook and clean for me (just kidding), family vacations, finding a place where God wants us to serve together, family dinners, building a chicken coop and raising chickens, somebody knowing you so well and visa versa. I’m excited . . . and a touch terrified. There are the regular scary things to think about, like having to talk to someone first about making decisions, someone who might disagree with me from time to time and then the biggie . . . becoming a step family.
Like most members of a step family, I never, ever, ever in six trillion years, thought I’d be a part of one. And a fairly complicated one, at that. I suppose they are all complicated, right?
I’ve mentioned this years ago, but I’m not one to read “What to Expect, When You’re Expecting,” because as soon as I read the words, “while in your 6th month of pregnancy, watch for a pain on the left side of your abdomen,” I will, most definitely and immediately, have a concerning pain on the left side of my abdomen. I, also, never read attachment books before we adopted Macie. I’m not saying this is the responsible road to take, but I just never want to know what could go wrong, because then I either live myself right into that problem or I would worry about it.
However, my M.O. is a changin’ on this new step family chapter. I feel completely ill equipped to make everything OK in this situation. I really, super, a whole lot, dislike the fact that these boys are divided between two homes, two systems, two lives and two loves. There are just no good solutions to this kind of division. I’m not OK with it, but I have no control over it, so I could either walk away, or I could continually return to deep gratefulness, that Jesus WILL do something here. That is His specialty!
Like I said, my M.O. is changing, so instead of sticking my head in the sand and crossing my fingers in hopes that everything will go swimmingly well with blending a family that is in constant flux, I am trying to learn a little something from the experts. I have been listening to a series called, “The Smart Stepfamily,” by Ron L. Deal, and it is giving me such hope, (along with some alarm, here and there).
My greatest hope is found the second talk when Ron said that he attempted to find the perfect model family in the Bible. To my surprise, there isn’t a single, cute, little two parent, 3 kid, no problem, house in the suburbs family, that God highlights in the Bible. Instead the Bible is full of these stories:
-Abraham, who I assumed was always a stand up guy, because there is a kids song about him, (which will probably be in your head now, too) sleeps with his wife’s servant, upon her encouragement, since she was having some fertility problems. What? Genesis 16
-Lot’s daughters get him drunk and then sleep with him. What? – Genesis 19 (That feels uncomfortable to even write).
-Rebecca is a controlling wife and Isaac is pretty passive and she attempts to control her sons, Jacob and Esau, who, not surprisingly turn out to be a mess. Jacob ended up having to leave the family and connect with some more of his extended dysfunctional family members. What? – Genesis 25-35
Then there is Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and that whole ordeal. What? Genesis 37.
You’ve also got my favorite story in the Bible, Ruth, (the whole book of Ruth) who is a widow and who was from the tribe of Moab, who was from Lot’s little trist with his daughters. She married Boaz, and they had Obed. Obed and his wife had Jesse and Jesse was the father of David.
That’s where things become a little more familiar. Jesus is from the line of David and all these other people. I’m leaving out many others, of course.
The point is . . . all these CRAZY, non-tidy families, are the family of promise. It is so humbling that God uses such untidiness, such unfaithfulness, to accomplish our salvation. I can honestly say, none of this crossed my mind when I had a simpler, normal family. There is no question in my mind that I am not up to this challenge of creating a step family. It is overwhelming, it is walking into hard, but it is exciting. I think I could only say that, because I have no choice, but to continually allow Jesus to equip me and Tony. To pray and fight, but to also give this burden to Jesus. To trust that Jesus loves Evan, Braden, Spencer, Leah and Macie, so much. We have a unique advantage here. We KNOW we can’t make this OK and we know we can’t do this on our own. We can see so much of the fallout of sin and death in our kids, but we KNOW God can and will redeem it.
It’s like a little picture of salvation. We KNOW we can’t attain it ourselves. We can do a lot and we can try really hard, but we are powerless without the grace of Jesus. I pray that my grace for every member of our step family grows a lot, and I pray that the messiness of our soon to be combined family will be met with so much grace. I know I’ll need so much grace, when I fail to give grace. I am not a good grace giver, despite the amount I have received. I pray so hard for the grace of Jesus in our home.
A group of us were talking last night about some of this, my friend, Monet (in the words of another friend, Christy), summed it up nicely, (in a very loosely quoted manner), “If we don’t have any potholes in our lives, then there are not as many places for God to fill us.”
The picture just above this is killing me. Leah! She looks so “le miserable.” Oh my word. And Tony looks so optimistic! I am wondering if you put this picture in last ON PURPOSE because at any given time your whole family of promise will not feel the same way as one another about this new endeavor together.
But the picture you paint in this post of how faith really is about needing a Savior is so brilliantly expressed. I think the last few years of your life have been a pretty good boot camp for this new place of needing grace yourself and being ready to accept it from each member of your family.
Maybe the pothole is essential to show off who the pothole filler is. I’m sure there’s a cuter way to put that. For now, as I sit here on Spring Break in my PJ’s with my coffee enjoying your challenge to step into the “messy places,” I feel a little bit more at ease that you’re ready to step into that in the days ahead, too.
This story is such a representation of FAITH in ACTION. There is absolutely no way to predict how all this will end. And, in some ways isn’t that precisely the point? Real control over any part of our story is only an illusion — a counterfeit truth. The real truth — as you’ve said — is that God is the ultimate salve, the perfect filler of our souls. If we live under the illusion that we “have it all together” that certainly doesn’t give the Lord much space to “do His thang,” now does it? And He is, indeed, doing what He does best in all of you! His love is manifesting in each one of your souls and filling those deep down, hard-to-reach places with His grace and love. Y’all are a motley little tapestry of His love! I, for one, am completely blessed by you all. Your story invites me to continue digging into my own — with authenticity, vulnerability and (hopefully!) a ton of grace. xoxo