Blended Families Are Messy

I’m sure that you get this question multiple times a day: “How are you?” It’s often preceded by “Good morning,” or “Hello!” I know I say that to most of my coworkers when I pass them in the hallway. More often than not, you probably receive back a standard response of “Good morning; how are you?” Note: your question was answered with…a question. As of late, my response has been “I’m hanging in there.” Now, I give a bit more honest and detailed responses to my closer friends than I do the random coworker walking down the hallway. However, even then, I wonder if they even believe some of the things I say because if I wasn’t living this life, I’m not sure I would believe me either. 

My husband was talking with one of our associate pastors recently, who attended the Blended & Blessed conference with us. He was telling the pastor about some of the things we are working through right now, and his response was, “I didn’t realize it before the conference, but blended families are MESSY.” Why yes, yes they are. I won’t go into the details of our specific challenges for a variety of reasons, but suffice it to say that we have both been inside courtrooms way too many times in the last two years, and that doesn’t seem to be letting up. 

Living Life Blended has been a little challenging the last few months. Probably longer if I really think about it. I don’t think the casual coworker would be prepared to hear the truth, or at least how the truth feels right now. I haven’t even truly put this into words for myself until recently. 

I’m overwhelmed. I’m stressed. 

I think we al go through times where we feel overwhelmed and/or stressed. Usually those times last for a short period of time. For us, it seems ongoing and never ending. The battles we face are often out of our control, and we just have to deal with them. These battles are much more personal and emotional than work stresses. Our youngest children are 8, so we are looking at a minimum of 10 more years of some of these stresses. Our lives are forever entangled with people that, for now at least, we seem to be consistently at odds with. I can’t express how much I wish this was different…

I’m physically, emotionally and financially drained. 

I am pretty sure we have paid for our attorney’s vehicle at this point. On the positive side, we are supporting local businesses! Haha. But clearly, we would have much preferred to have been able to invest that money differently. All of these court battles add emotional stress on us individually and on our marriage. To be fair, some of these were initiated by us, not not all of them. Some of them just leave me shaking my head…but I digress. 

I feel like I’m failing, and I’m at a loss for what to do to change things.

Living in a blended family can leave you questioning things that nuclear families don’t face. Whether it’s relationships with stepchildren or former spouses to how you parent your own biological children. I truly wish things could be different. I can only control my own actions and responses, so that’s what I’m trying to focus on. We can only continue to do what we believe is best for our children, our household, and our marriage. 

I’m confused; I’m frustrated; I’m angry. I just don’t understand why…

Things have been said and done that just leave me shaking my head. I believe that many of these things are done based out of hurt and bitterness. Some of them are things I did early on as a single mom, but ultimately, thanks to a great counselor, I learned that I can only control me. It’s not my place to control someone else and me continuing to try to control them just causes me stress and frustration. I pray for healing, and I pray for change, even change in myself and my responses to situations. 

I want to throw my hands up and give up. 

It is exhausting and frustrating when someone else’s decisions and actions can have a huge negative effect on your marriage, on your household, on your finances… Something you rarely face in a nuclear family is someone outside of your household having the ability to take you to court for how you decide to parent or how you run your household. Short of child abuse or neglect, these are generally just seen as differences of opinion, not court worthy. We can’t live our lives constantly questioning “if I do xyz, is that going to land me in court?” Sometimes it’s enough to make you throw your hands up and say “I give up!”

I’m hurting. 

My heart breaks when I see my children hurting and grieving because they have to face things no child should ever have to go through. I can’t fix this for them. Watching your children grieve is painful. Children in blended families do grieve – whether it’s the loss of a hope of their parents getting back together or the loss of what their family used to me…there is grief there. They depend on us to HELP them grieve, and sometimes, it’s really hard to do that. 

I just want normal, if there is such a thing.

I feel guilt because our children don’t have a “normal” life due to our own parts in the failure of our first marriages. They have to split their time between two households because of US, not because of anything they’ve done. Every marriage and every family has their struggles and issues to work through. Our struggles are not only the typical ones – finances, differing expectations of what our roles are, parenting challenges,  did I say finances? But we also have former spouses, co-parenting challenges, legal battles, relationships with and between our children and stepchildren, juggling schedules with another home, did I say finances? Some days, I wish we just had “normal” marriage challenges. I can see why the rate of divorce in second marriages is even higher than in first marriages. 

Now, I will also say that I feel like most if not all of these things are lies from the enemy. I have felt like we have been under spiritual attack really since we started our ministry for blended families in our area. We know that we are doing what God has called us to do in that regard, but the challenges that have been thrown at us are enough to throw anyone off track.

All of those lies…they’re like weights. Guilt…10 lbs. Hurt…20 lbs. Anger and resentment…50 lbs. and on and on the weights go. They just make you feel weighed down and you question whether you can continue on. 

We finally reached our breaking point. We just could not continue on carrying all that baggage! We literally fell to our knees and laid this all down on the altar. Maybe that was just what God wanted us to do – get to where we had no place to go but to our knees. Or maybe it was the enemy trying to weigh us down to where we couldn’t move forward. Regardless, I believe that God is using this for good. I don’t believe that’s where He wants us to stay. He wants us to give our burdens to Him. 

We have given this to God and are trusting that He will see us through this mess and lead us to the blessings that He has planned for us. In moments and times like what we are going through, we cling to God’s promises. Specifically, His promise that He has a plan and it is good. Now, in the middle of this mess, it is impossible to see what that plan is. We don’t even know if we are in the middle, or maybe even still in the beginning, or perhaps close to the end. But I KNOW He has a plan. I believe that one day (hopefully soon), He’s going to bless this mess. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now…to not pick those weights back up… Because I know the little ones are watching…and because I want JOY!