Does your blended family feel like it’s in a blender?
I am pro-marriage and I believe divorce and having children out of marriage can leave deep wounds and scars for all involved; especially for children. Many of those wounds can last a lifetime and manifest in so many unhealthy ways. While we should always try to keep the marriage covenant, we all know that it doesn’t always hold together for a million different reasons. The truth is, the traditional nuclear family has faded from our society over the years and blended families are all around us. More than 50% of the US population is a member of a blended family in some form or fashion. “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” have long given way to “The Brady Bunch”.
My husband and I married in 2000 and today we have five children that we deeply love with our whole hearts. I have had two pregnancies and gave birth to three of our five children in 2003 and 2004. Their ages are 23,
21, 11, 11, and 10. Got it? Or does all of this sound like a complicated math problem? Most of you recognize it – blended family math.
BLENDED? NOT QUITE.
Some people believe that when they marry and move two separate families into one household, that they are automatically a blended family. That is not the case. In the beginning, you are running two families in the same house at the same time, on somewhat parallel tracks, but running them separate in a lot of ways. Also, there’s the ex that tends to influence the family dynamics even though they are not typically in your household.
“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” –Matthew 12:25
JUMP IN THE BLENDER
It takes a Blender to Blend! That sounds scary and painful!?! In actuality, the blended family comes sometime after lots of hard work blending. So be prepared to jump in the blender.
I could write a novel about the challenges we experienced going from separate to blending to blended. If I am going to be totally honest, more than half of the book would be about the mistakes we made along the way and what we wish we had done differently. But we made it. We finally created harmony. We are far from perfect, but I think that even “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” had some imperfections off camera!
Bottom line, if you are in a blended family for 1 day or 10 years and you are “just winging it” and praying that one day your family members will wake up and suddenly become harmonious, then you’re in denial my friend. Blending a family is impossible without commitment, a plan and a whole lotta humility. The superior prideful ego has got to be replaced with an unshakable commitment to do the right thing and say the right thing no matter who around you may be wrong. It doesn’t always feel good, but you have to remember that you’re doing it because you love your family and you ultimately want harmony; this is especially important when others just want to keep stirring up drama. Our moms said it best, “If you can’t say anything nice, do not say anything at all.”
“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
”The tongue has the power of life and death.´ Proverbs 18:21
STEPS FOR SUCCESSFUL BLENDING
There are lots of practical steps for blending a family. But if I had to name the top three for our family, they are Jesus, Prayer and Love.
#1 – Jesus. Whether you are a nuclear family, a blended family or something in between, Jesus must be the foundation of your family. If you haven’t already done it, come together as a family and ask Jesus to come into your home and help each one of you do your part in blending the family. There is great power in your words and you must verbally make the invitation. My husband and I tried our hand at blending our family for four years without Jesus in it. Those were some difficult and sometimes hopeless years. We were the enemy’s play ground. Asking Jesus into our family is how we finally made some progress in the right direction. When you invite Jesus into your family, Jesus will show up in an amazing way.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
#2 – Daily Prayer. After you ask Jesus to come into the family, you have to keep Him involved and actively seek His word every day. You accomplish this through daily prayer. And not just individual prayer, but praying as a family was important too. There were many days that I prayed for myself just to help me stick to the commitment. But I also prayed for each of our family members. And this sometimes included praying for exes and new step-parents as well. This was not easy for me. But I realized that even though they are in another house and I rarely had to spend a lot of time with them, they are a big part of my children’s lives and they needed prayer too. Praying helped to get my heart right even when I wanted to be upset, offended or judgmental. Pray to drive the enemy out. And always pray appreciation that the Lord is not only willing, but He is able to bring harmony to your family.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask. …”. James 4:1-3
#3 – Love. And I’m not talking about human love either. I am talking about a decision to love like Christ. Love in a blended family is patient and kind, but it is also 100% selfless, unconditional, humble and sacrificial. Some days I just had to rationalize that if Jesus was willing to die on a cross for me, then I can step up and love even when everyone around me does not deserve it and have not earned it. There will be mistakes. In fact, there will be lots of mistakes! Don’t use it as an opportunity to tear each other down or belittle or berate. Instead, encourage each other and show that committment to loving each other.
And let’s just get down to it. Our children are impacted in a most profound way when we set out to blend families. Our children are worth our efforts. We must love them enough to step-up as parents and lead our families into a place of harmony and love. God expects parents to love their children with all their hearts all of the time. Just the nature of their membership in the family has to be sufficient to receive your love.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord. Offspring are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
I would venture to say that if you’re blending a family and you are experiencing frustration, then you are not alone. It’s complicated! There’s no exact science to the process of blending a family. Blending requires a specific plan and it takes action; no more waiting for everyone to just wake-up one day and be happy. There are a lot of resources to help you; family counselors, other families that successfully blended after many years of efforts, Church resources, books, etc. But the number one resouce is Jesus. If you invite Jesus into your family, he will bless your family with harmony.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22