I recognized the hurt that seeped into my heart when my stepson told me he wouldn’t be home for Christmas–the only one of our five kids who won’t be present. As a stepmom for almost 20 years, I’ve walked through stepfamily pain on more occasions than I want to remember.
We’ve come a long way from our early beginnings, but I still have to remind myself that my stepfamily will never experience Christmas the same way my nuclear family of origin did. My sisters and I made every effort possible to be together on Christmas morning, even as young adults.
I began to chant the stepmom mantras that have helped me before with heartache. Lower your expectations, accept what you cannot change, consider the positives, take care of yourself, remain hopeful… I know how to walk through hurt. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
I’ve spoken with a lot of stepmoms recently who are walking through stepfamily pain this holiday season–many of them with heartache much worse than mine. Maybe you’re one of them. It’s not unusual to let pain or worry choke out the beauty of the season. But I’m choosing to find JOY and a contented heart amidst imperfect circumstances.
When I’m distracted by conflict or tension, I reflect on the meaning of the season. I turn to Jesus–my counselor, my friend, my confidante.I pray for answers to my conflict and courage for the next step. I listen to Christian music or meditate on a favorite Scripture like I Peter 3:12, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.”
When I want to grumble, I count my blessings. I remind myself that life would be meaningless without the people I love and walk through life with, even though they’re imperfect.I’m thankful for a husband who loves me, despite my flaws. I’m thankful for my kids and stepkids, my parents, my sisters, my friends, and my work associates. I’m thankful for the beauty of winter, good health, a sound mind (most days), God’s provisions and so much more!
When I’m overwhelmed, I take a time out. I go to lunch with a friend, I make time for the gym, I evaluate my schedule and drop meaningless obligations, and I put boundaries around my time.
When I’m sad on bumpy days, I remind myself that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to have meaning. Jesus was born in humble dwellings amidst smelly animals. But He became the Savior of the world.
Dear stepparent, be encouraged! God is using you to mold a life like no one else can. He will bless you for your sacrifices, your hurt, your imperfect efforts, and your willingness to do a job that isn’t easy. Find contentment and JOY in the journey, knowing He will walk every step with you.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Have you walked through holiday stepfamily pain? Do you have other suggestions on how to cope?
For additional holiday tips, check out our holiday e-book, Unwrapping the Gift of Stepfamily Peace, co-authored with Heather Hetchler of CafeSmom. Packed with proven tools and tips, personal stories and a list of recipes and new holiday traditions you can create with your stepfamily, it’s a great way to help you find peace at the holidays.
Pic by markuso