Hurtful Words Cannot be Taken Back

I answered the phone and could hardly understand my stepdaughter because she was crying so hard. “I guess my brother hates me. He told me I’ve lost the privilege of being his big sister.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Where did that comment come from?”

Because both of my stepchildren are now living on their own, I don’t usually get in the middle of their relationship. But lately I’d noticed they were drifting apart and not making much effort to stay in touch. I’d told both of them that relationships are two-sided and both parties are responsible for their part. I love the adult relationships I have with my siblings and want the same for my children.

My stepdaughter went on to tell me about the conversation. Her brother had exchanged hurtful words that she took personally. It was an ugly conversation that escalated to things that should have never been said.

I had a flash back to the conversation my stepson and I had a few days prior. He asked me if I knew what today was. “No,” I said, “what is it?” “It’s the day my mom died.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” I answered. “It’s been six years now, hasn’t it?” “Yeah, I guess that’s right.”

Compound that hurt with other stresses of life, and it’s easy to see how angry words can fly. But it’s still not right. Those words can never be taken back.

I wanted to hug my stepdaughter and tell her how much we love her. But, unfortunately, she lives over 300 miles away. She is trying hard to live a mature, Christian life and make it on her own. She had called her brother because she knew he was coming to visit and she wanted to see him. But all she got from him was defensiveness and anger.

As our stepchildren get older, we carry less influence with them. I’m thankful my stepdaughter called today and confided in me. But addressing it with my stepson will be difficult. Young adults want to believe they have all the answers and no longer need help from their parents.

I know God can heal their hurts, if they will let him.  I will continue to HOPE (Having Optimistic Prayer Expectations).

“Only God can turn a MESS into a message, a TEST into a testimony, a TRIAL into a TRIumph, a VICTim into a VICTORY. God is Good…all the time.”

Are you careful with your words? We can never take back what we say to our loved ones.

Healthy Stepparenting #9: Learn to Cope with Rejection

As our series on adjusting to the stepparenting role winds down, I’ve saved a few posts to talk about issues that have hugely impacted me or my stepfamily. Today, I want to tackle feelings of rejection.

During my years of stepparenting, I’ve dealt with more rejection than I want to think about. As I write about it today, I recognize the lump in my throat and sick-to-my-stomach feeling that accompanies rejection. But I’ve learned to cope with rejection by realizing that my identity and self-worth are found in Jesus Christ, the One Who will forever love me.

My self-worth is not dependent on my stepchildren loving me or accepting me as their stepmom. It is not dependent on whether my husband agrees with every move I make with his children. My self-worth and identity are dependent upon my acceptance of Christ’s love and forgiveness for me.

Rejection comes in different forms but can be felt when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others, but are not accepted by them. It usually stems from unresolved issues by the rejecting person. And although feelings of rejection are painful, it doesn’t mean we have failed or done something wrong.

Rejection of a stepparent is most commonly related to loyalty issues the stepchild is combating. (See blog post on Loyalty Issues). As a stepparent continues to love and care for his stepchild amidst feelings of rejection, a relationship can develop over time. But it requires a lot of patience and dedicated prayer to continue to love someone who is rejecting you.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ’s love is “wide and long and high and deep.” (Ephesians 3:18) It offers peace and comfort during times of distress and dissension. If offers a way of escape during times of piercing words and threatening actions. His love is readily available for us when we choose to turn to Him and accept it.

Rejection is never easy to deal with. As a stepparent, it may come and go or disappear altogether as the relationship grows. But when we choose to accept that our sense of self and identity are dependent on our worth in Christ, not on other people, we can learn to cope with rejection.