Have you noticed how our culture makes it so easy to be the victim? Watch about 5 minutes of television and you’ll see someone crying or fighting or saying, “It wasn’t my fault – he made me do it!” Or turn on the radio and you’ll hear about how some man cheated on a girl and now she’s out to make him pay. Our world makes it so easy to glorify the act of “getting even” as a virtue. Because the culture says “it’s okay” and “it’s all about you, babe” – I find it can be so tempting to engage in this modern warfare.
This past week, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this subject. As a stepmom in a blended family I have to ask myself, “Do I see myself as the victim? Do I let the challenges of this role overshadow the joys of it? Do I spend more time talking about the frustrations or the beauty?”
I’ve been dating my husband for about five and half years now, and, in that time I have tried to lean on my own strength and have tried to “be perfect” – psh! whatever that means!?! The sentiment was sweet at first and everyone loved that I never rocked the boat. I didn’t want to do anything that might be construed as manipulative or needy. I didn’t want to take my husband’s attention away from his kids in any way. I didn’t want to do or say anything to upset his ex-wife. In essence, I wore myself out trying to tiptoe through the minefield. I have spent too many of they past years looking, not for what I could do, but instead boxing myself in with all the can’t dos. I can remember thinking, “I can’t stand up for myself to my husband’s ex because that’s not respectful. I can’t make my dreams and desires known to my husband, because, in order to help me reach them, that might take some of his time away from his children and that would be unforgivable.” And, what my family got from me was a timid quiet shell of a person.
And then, I woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I realized that in an effort to be perfect for everyone else, I had lost a part of my own spirit and I had let a bitter seed grow in my heart. I realized I could not and would not live any more days trapped in that cycle. Although that girl didn’t make waves, that kind of person didn’t bring her full self to her family either. The Lord has not called me to life a fear and timidity but, instead, to one of power, love and self-discipline. I realized somewhere along the way I had bottled up every emotion and frustration and had indeed become the victim, not because of anyone else, but instead because I had been believing a lie that my family didn’t need or want the whole version of me, and that is a shame. No one else made me feel this way, I did it to myself. I have decided its time to stop shying away from things out of fear, but instead to truly take my place in my family.
This begs the question – what is a stepmom’s place and voice in a blended family? And better yet, do you have even have one? The answer, my friends, is yes – no matter who tries to tell you differently. I urge you, do not listen to the lies of the enemy, but instead seek out the voice of truth. The truth is, beyond all the stereotypes and the dynamics of your relationship with your stepchildren, you husband or the ex-wife, you are a person who thinks and feels and you are just as much a part of the family as anyone else. The truth is, you speak directly into the lives of your husband and your stepchildren. The truth is, your words are powerful and with that power comes responsibility. Remember, Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 15:1 also says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
You CAN use your voice. You CAN make a difference. You CAN have a place in your family. You might feel like the little engine that could, just struggling to get up the hill, but you CAN make it. However, do not let the fact that you can give way to a place of pride. You shouldn’t use your voice to shout, condemn or belittle those around you. You shouldn’t let the fact that you do have a place in your family cause you to swell with pride and sling mud to those who persecute you. In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus heeds, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Do not use your voice as a weapon but instead as a tool of discernment and grace. There is a time for raising your voice without fear or trepidation, and what you have to say might stir frustration and growing pains (like how your muscles rebel when you work them and they’re not used to it), but you should never use your words with the intention to hurt or condemn.
No one enters a marriage or a blended family as a silent partner. You can have a voice and you can have the boldness of a lion and still be as gentle as a lamb.