As I have been praying about what to write about this past week, one word keeps coming to my mind – benevolence. Benevolence is described by the dictionary as an act of kindness, a charitable gift, or simply the desire to do good towards others. As a Christian stepmom mastering the art of benevolence is key.
If your stepfamily is similar to mine, day to day you face struggles that require you to take the high road – to be the better person, etc. This may mean holding your tongue when your stepchildren act in a way that you find completely inappropriate, but realize your husband should be the one to address the issue. Or it may come in the form of an ex-wife challenging whether or not your husband is providing a good environment for his children, or whether or not he pays her enough child support. I could give numerous examples from my own personal life, but I really want this site to be about focusing on the Lord in each situation – not the drama of the situations themselves. When someone attacks my husband my first inclination is to rise up and protect him, and I can do that, but not by spewing out anger and hate. Even if my husband’s ex-wife or children never hear my negative words, I know that the spirit of them carries a lot of weight. Just because I don’t call my husband’s ex-wife names to her face, does not mean I am innocent and those words do nothing to protect my husband. Instead, they encourage him to lash out and swell up with pride in how he responds to the given situations. Instead, I think you can protect yourself, your husband, and your marriage by rising up with benevolence. Encourage forgiveness when situations arise that you disagree with, and find a way to love through the situation. This means rising to be the stronger and often the “saner” person.
You may be thinking, “you don’t know my husband’s kids or their mother…” You’re right I don’t – I only know what I have faced. Your next thought could be, “But the children’s mom continually hurts our family and lashes out against us..” And to this I say, I completely understand. In my situation, my husband’s ex-wife is not a believer in Christ and it makes her infuriated that we take the children to church and encourage them to cultivate a relationship with the Lord. In our situation my stepsons have two very different homes that they live in and spiritual battles are constant and the need for forgiveness is always present. And believe me I get it – just when you forgive the ex-wife for one offense she seems to do something else. And there it is – the constant battle, the constant struggle within ourselves to forgive but the pride that says, “Why should I keep forgiving her for the same offense time and time again??” To this, I would encourage you with the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew where Peter asks Jesus this question:
“Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” “I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 (HCSB)
Then Jesus tells a parable of the slave who was forgiven a great debt, but when he was released he went to his debtors and required payment from them. When the King heard this he was upset knowing he had just forgiven this man of so much more than his own debtors owed to him. When we refuse to forgive the ones who have wronged us or our loved ones time and time again, we are acting like the man in this parable. We have been forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ – how then can we discriminate what offenses we should forgive?
I encourage you to practice the act of perpetual benevolence and constant forgiveness. Not only will your spirit be lighter, but you will see positive changes in and around your family. Keep forgiving…keep honoring your husband and keep encouraging him to help his children honor their mother.