I am a step mom.
If it sounds a little like I’m introducing myself at an A.A. meeting, that isn’t so far away from how it feels. These words often require work for me to own, because they acknowledge a “blip” in our family structure.
Our son has to juggle two sets of parents, two sets of values, and a very long commute twice a year (his bio mom lives in Australia). Other kids have one mom and dad; Jordan will always have two. This will be a challenge he will deal with all his life.
Because he spends nine months out of the year with us, Jordan and I have a very close relationship. Disney movies generally don’t portray the step mother as the heroine of the film, so one of my immediate goals when I became his mom was to avoid the word “wicked” being placed before the word “step”. I’m happy to say so far, so good.
(However the teenage years are ahead of us, so I’m not holding my breath.)
So this is a little window into the messiness of our life. You may not have a blended family, but I’m betting your kids will deal with messiness in some form or another.
- A death or devastation may cause them to question their faith
- An addiction or abuse may be inflicted on them by someone they love
- A relationship may leave them with an emotional scar
The bottom line is: Messiness Happens. (That’s the Christian version of the bumper sticker). So here are three nuggets from Finding Faith in the Dark to help you guide your kids when it does.
1. The first gift you can give your children is the ability to
View their faith apart from their circumstances.
This lesson is clearly seen in the beginning of the book of Job. Job’s pain was not a consequence of something he did; it was allowed because Job was loved. God believed Job was strong enough to bear the weight of his trial, and we see throughout the book that God was with Job, not against him, in it.
Knowing God is aligned with us, rather than aligned with our circumstances, is one of the first great lessons of faith. You make a great investment in your child’s faith journey when you pass it on.
2. Another gift you can give your children is to help them
See their story as part of a bigger story
Knowing there are other stories of pain besides their own gives kids a greater perspective when they face difficult circumstances. They can also see how their story can be used to touch someone else’s story if they let it. God wants to partner with us to bring healing and hope to others, and when we let Him walk with us in our trial, He promises to take us through it, and use it for His glory.
3. The last gift you can give your children is to help them
Understand that pain and loss are part of life
One day we, along with the people we love, will die. Though I believe one day we will live without suffering and loss, “in this world,” Jesus says, there will be trouble. (John 16:33). God uses our trials to strengthen us so we are equipped with a faith that can stand in sorrow as well as joy. Walking with our kids through trials, rather than around them, will help our kids develop a stronger faith.
As parents, this is our privilege, our challenge and our joy.