She said, “I was excited…”

I noticed Amber’s melancholy state when I met my friend for lunch. “I was excited about a new beginning in marriage,” she said, “but now I find myself sad more often than happy. I’m not sure why.”

As we spoke further, I recognized the problem.

Amber’s new beginning included a “white picket fence” that never went up. Expectations that never came to pass. She had envisioned peaceful meals around the dinner table and fun times at the ball field as she cheered for her stepchildren.

She thought she was prepared.

But Amber had neglected to consider the teenager who smacks his food every night. The awkwardness of the ex-spouse who sits a foot away in the bleachers. She had prepared herself for a period of relationship bonding but was not prepared for endless months of sassy attitudes, slammed doors, and late-night meltdowns.

Remarriage often includes expectations that don’t take form.

Sometimes, we need to step back and reevaluate. Amber needed to grieve the loss of what she’d hoped for—her white-picket-fence life that didn’t materialize.

Her unfulfilled expectations were creating feelings of disappointment and sadness. “Embrace your loss,” I told her. “Feel the ache of what might never be. I know it’s hard. Rely on your faith on sad days.”

We don’t have to bear our grief alone. We can claim promises from God’s Word to help us on troubled days.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
  • “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Jesus wants to comfort us when we’re troubled. We can watch Him minister to Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, after their brother’s death. John 11:33 says Jesus was troubled and deeply moved at Mary’s grief. As one with human qualities, Jesus understands our emotions. We can call out to Him in our distress.

Stepfamily grief shows up through loss, but also through expectations that never come to pass. When we recognize and give names to our feelings of sadness and discouragement, we can then turn to God’s Word for comfort and counsel to help. God promises to provide a way in the wilderness and water in the wasteland. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

New beginnings often include loss, but when we move forward through the difficult days, we will find we are indeed more than conquerors through Him who loves us!

Have you experienced grief in your stepfamily? Would you share a few tips on how you navigated through it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Excerpted from Stepparenting with Grace: A Devotional for Blended Families

More thoughts on grief, the stepfamily and healing can be found here.

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