Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Bit of Follow-Up

The other night I was in a great deal of emotional pain regarding this topic of being a step-mom.  I've had a couple of days to think about it and calm down.  You see, I know that no matter what, God has my back.  That even though I may not have wanted a divorce and as surely as divorce is not what God wants, it happens.  And because it happens, God gives people second chances at forever.  Sure, nothing is ever the same, but that doesn't mean there can't be something new and special and in some cases a greater blessing because of it.

However, another thing I know is that it is going to be work.  A LOT OF WORK.  I know that; just like all the other things that can go wrong in life, all the other battles, struggles, and lessons to learn from in life, this is just another example.  I also know that God doesn't send us out into the world without first giving us the means to find the answers.  In fact, He gave us the answers before we even knew what the questions were going to be.  That is what I have come to these past couple of days. 

You know when I said I was yelling at God and asking Him why He hated me so much?  Well, He couldn't answer me straight away because I wasn't going to really listen to Him.  I was inconsolable. (For those of you with a small child you know EXACTLY what this looks like!)  I know now what it is that I need to do.  I need to go to the one place that has all the answers.  Now, granted, I can't just look up in the index for the subject "How to step-parent" because those weren't the words used per say all those years ago, but I know that they existed.

How do I know?  Well, the Bible speaks of death and divorce.  These two things are as old as time to some degree.  And sure as the sun will come up tomorrow there were children affected by those very things from that time as well.  So, I think that in God's word He has guidance and instruction for those of us who need them for this reason.  I mean, why not?  He is God.  He knew before time began the world we would be in.  The words that He wrote were put there for our use and application today, just as much as they were for the people of the time.  It is, after all, the living word of God. 

Another thing that struck me in all of this were the words said to my by my cousin after reading the original post.  I need to let you know, I love this woman.  She says, "it takes a strong woman to be a step-mom, which I know you are.  Maybe everything we have gone through in life so far was strengthening us for this." People, this is it!  God doesn't give the hard jobs to the faint of heart.  He gives the hard jobs to the fighters, the strong willed, the ones He knows will do the best they can to love those that weren't theirs from the start.  And that is just it, I may not be the biological mom, but I will be the step-mom their dad CHOSE for them.  I will NOT be "the other woman" because some therapist somewhere said that is all I will ever be.  NO!  I will be a woman who God chose to carry the burden of loving more children than he blessed her with biologically.  I will be the woman who gets the honor of more than every other weekend, because I have the honor of showing them that love doesn't have to only be given to those you birthed.

Then, after that, after I have lived my days with these new blessings, with the joys (and pains) of raising my 3 Littles alongside those of my future husband's I just hope God will smile at me and say, "I knew you could do it.  I made you strong enough just for this and you didn't fail.  When it was hard and it hurt and when there was no thank you or care given in return you did it anyway.  And because of that, Mandy, you have shown them what it truly means to love like I do."  So, with that, all you step-moms out there, all you women who are already on the road to becoming one, and all you women that, like me, pray for the honor of someday getting to be one, just remember, God only gives the toughest battles to those He knows will fight the good fight.

Now, if I may, I have some Littles to love and a smile of hope to share.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Talk Radio

I am not normally the kind of person who seeks out talk radio.  I've tried.  I mean really, really hard to listen to it, and in the listening to it I've tried even harder to like it.  Some days I can say that I did (like it), others, well, not so much.  I listen to a local Christian radio station. I have had many times when just at the right time the right song would come on the radio and speak to my heart concerning a particular situation that I am dealing with.  So naturally, today, as I was driving to work (much later than normal because I had an appointment) and heard the topic of the mid-morning talk radio I was ecstatic.  I mean, here was something for me to learn from.  Something for me to take and grow from.   Something that I knew would benefit me in the future.  The topic?  101 Tips on being a Step-Mom.

I would be lying if I didn't say about 5 minutes into it I didn't want to change it.  I did.  I did not like what the family therapist had to say.  I had even less to like regarding her delivery tactics.  I am sure there was a modicum of truth to her statements, but in the end I was left feeling like less of a woman because I was never going to be anyone of importance in the life of my future husband's family.  To that end, I was left with knowing that I will forever be "the other woman" in not only the children's lives, but also in his family's.  That the only role that I was allowed to have in any way shape or form was that of a care giver, and yes, if I was so inclined to do so, rather as I am commanded to do, I am to love those I care for, but never once should I expect it in return or be allowed to feel anything towards any dismissive behaviors that may be sent my way. But wait, there is a small ray of light, I am, as an adult woman, allowed to have one thing, and that is only by asking my future husband to have the conversation with his children, and that is respect.

Now, before you blow up this post with your comments, do not for one second read into any of this that I think I should be their mother.  Good heaven's no.  That is just ridiculousness right there, but I would hope that if I am guiding, teaching, loving, sharing, providing, caring for them the exact same as I do my own, I would at least think I was worthy of more than just the title of "the other woman."   This gem of a woman also went on to sprinkle the finely ground salt onto the already gaping wound of my now crushed heart and said that in no way, shape, or form could I ever expect my blended family to ever resemble that of a biological family and to that end I should never expect my future spouse to relate to me as more than an adult to be respected in front of his children.  That I essentially have no choice but to accept my role and if I truly loved my future husband I would not want for anything but to hold this role as it is - a woman who cares for and provides for, but has no audible voice or feelings.  Essentially, I am to step into the background and then be ready and available when they are ready to invite me into their lives.  Never once am I allowed to invite myself in.

I need to let you know. I cried.  Then I bawled.  Then all during my work day I seethed.  Then after work I broke down, so much so I couldn't drive for almost 10 minutes.  After that I started praying and the tears kept flowing as I yelled at God.  I asked him why he hated me so much that I would never get the honor of having a family again.  Why I wasn't good enough to be a part of a family.  He didn't answer me of course.  It is ok. In fact, as I drove the whole way home crying, I knew in my head that He is strong enough to hear my words and accept the pain of them.  But I wasn't done with my tirade - the one to Him and the one against myself.  I felt hate today.  Hate of the strongest kind.  I believe for the first time ever since the ex-Mr. walked out of my life, I hated him.  Today.  Why?  Because he took my biological family away from me, he took the family bond away.  And now, now I will never get to be a family with someone again.  Instead my Littles and I are afforded this awkward jigsaw puzzle that if I hold my role just right, maybe in some cosmic way, the pieces will fit us together for all the brief seconds the other puzzle piece allows it to.

And that is where I am.  Stuck.  Stuck knowing, yet again, I was not worthy of forever, that I wasn't good enough for a forever family, that I get to get what I get and I cannot throw a fit.  Alright, you can scold me know if you want to. I am sure in someone's eyes I am being completely unreasonable.  I do want to say that I was reminded on one thing.  Of a single thing that she said, that blended family's are always brought together by loss; whether that loss was death or divorce.  Oh, lady, do I ever know.  Yet, it appears that the losses get to keep piling up, at least from my point of view.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Focusing on the Right Picture

I have had a rough few weeks. This morning, as I was sitting in church, it  hit me that I was focusing on the wrong picture.  Here's the thing, I know that in the pursuit of finding some peace in the past year and 8 months I have actually taken some of that away from myself.  I was looking at the things that I don't have, the things I can't do, and the people that I have lost. Today God reminded me of something far more important. Today He reminded me that we are each unique.  We are each going through something and that, yes, though it hurts it is the person at the end of it that He is trying to form.  I know it may seem weird, but I found comfort in that, and in so doing realized that even with all the don'ts and can'ts I have a beautiful list of do's and have's.

1. I am divorced = I do not have a husband.  This is true, I don't.  But I did have the honor once of being a bride and a wife.  Many do not get this, for whatever reason.  Even now, when it is something that I miss and long for, I know that God has the perfect man for my future and while He is working in me, He is also working in him.  (Not to mention I do have a super sweet, incredibly handsome, and heartwarmingly thoughtful and caring boyfriend!)

2.  I have an injured knee = I cannot run.  People, me, I CAN. NOT. RUN!  I'm dying here for this simple reason. While it is true that until I know what is wrong (just had an MRI) I have to lay off on the running, I do have something amazing to show for it.  I ran a marathon.  I ran, with an injury, 26.2 miles.  Yes, for fun.  And, even though I didn't get the time that I had been training for, I ran across that finish line.  I completed the race and received my medal.  I am now a marathoner.  NO ONE can take that away from me.  NO ONE.

3. I lost my grandma = Heaven got an amazing woman.  Almost a year ago she went home to sing to Jesus; yes, even in her severely off-key voice!  I miss her more and more each of these passing days.  These days when I wish I had an older woman, who I know would never once judge me, but lovingly listen and only offer advice if I actually asked, to talk to. I miss the sound of her voice and the way she used to call just to say "I love you."  I really need her advice.  I really need her.  But, instead, I have the privilege to say I got nearly 35 years with her in my life.  I will forever be her Mandy-maw.  And no matter what she will always be the best grandma a girl could ever ask for.  God was so good to me by giving her to me.

4.  I have gained 20 pounds = I am getting fat y'all!  Seriously.  This lack of running and increased eating for all the training I was doing in the many months leading up to my marathon have left me, well, looking horrific.  However, what I do know is that I know how to fix it.  I know what to do to get my health back on track.  And even though I  have gained 20 pounds I am STILL 42 pounds lighter than I was this time 2 years ago!  It is really all in the way I look at it.  I can get there again.

This list could go on and on.  There are so many things that have really gotten to me as of late, but each time they have come to my mind today I couldn't for the life of me think of a reason to let them tear me down.  In each of the things, I had a blessing.  Whether it be because something good came of it, or because something better is still yet to come.  I know that God loves me and that He always knows what is best for my life.  That just because there is a lot of hurt and pain and frustration, a lot of confusion, longing, and tears, does not mean that He isn't making the best Mandy out of me. 

I'd like to tell you that this lesson isn't one he would need to revisit, because I am totally sure it is, but for today, Pentecost Sunday, I find that the Lord has given me so much more than a simple lesson reminder.  He has given me a smile, a full heart, and the reassurance of His love.

May you all have a blessed week.

Love, M