I used to travel for work, at times traveling most of the month…and I was afraid to fly. I found that reading the Bible during my flight really helped me reel in those fears. My favorite verse while flying became Isaiah 43:2 (NIV):
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze”
In fact, this became a mantra that I would recite over & over on the plane. I found peace in this verse knowing that God cares for us in all situations. He guides us and protects us. And even during the “waters”, “rivers” and “fires” He comforts us. Over time, I had more peace when flying. I was able to focus on how amazing it is that God has blessed the pilot and flight attendants with amazing skills to care for the passengers. I could look out the window and marvel at how God allowed this giant hunk of metal to be airborne. I rested in knowing that God is ultimately in control of all things. And I would stare at the amazing creations of God (the clouds, sunsets, corn fields, and mountains all beautifully visible from the plane window). Flying became a time for me to be thankful and humble in God’s presence.
The other day as I pondered this, I realized the same mantra could be said by stepmoms such as myself. The stepmom journey can be filled with moments that are scary, bumpy, turbulent, unexpected and often out of our control. And how wonderful is it to know that God cares for us in all situations, ultimately He is in control and has a beautiful plan.
What are you thankful for today?
Sometimes it can feel like a stepfamily is going in circles. Parents struggle to establish boundaries. Boundaries between the newly married couple and the kids; boundaries between the couple and the ex. Dad feels that stress of keeping his bride happy and yet maintaining relationships with his kids. Stepmom gets a crash course in “outsider” status. Learning that you are the outsider in your own house is definitely not fun. So, I did some reading.
One of my favorite stepfamily books is Becoming A Stepfamily by Patricia L. Papernow (2003 Gestalt Press). Papernow goes over the “Stepfamily Cycle.” Believe it or not, as messy as it all may seem, there are actually developmental tasks that stepfamilies try to accomplish in each stage. Reducing power struggles, figuring out roles, establishing those boundaries, letting go of fantasies about how a stepfamily should be, recognizing the sense of loss that stepfamily members can feel, stepmom finding her place in the family, making changes, forging relationships. This was great news to me. These difficult processes were important and needed to happen. And it wasn’t a linear process. We would go forward, and backward and forward again. And the best news of all: this expert said that the process normally took anywhere from 4-7 years on average. We weren’t weird or abnormal…this is what a stepfamily is supposed to go through.
As awkward or painful as it feels at times, I remind myself that these growing pains are relatively “normal” (if there is such as thing as a “normal” family) for 4-7 years. And for as tough as it’s been, I can honestly say that for our family things have evened out in our 4th year. Year four feels so much more peaceful than year one. Things are falling into place.
Today I am thankful that I’m learning to be comfortable in the discomfort.
Philippians 4:19 (MSG): “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need…”
What are you thankful for today?