Over the years, I’ve spoken to numerous stepmoms dealing with rebellious stepchildren. I’ve dealt with it in my own home. When my stepson was an adolescent, he would often lash out at me. Hateful looks. Angry words. Some days I wasn’t sure there was hope it would change.
And there would be no change…except for God and my ability to forgive. But forgiveness isn’t always easy.
During my own turbulent time, a friend told me, “hurting people hurt people.”
It was a lightbulb moment.
My stepchildren were dealing with situations in their life that they didn’t like, couldn’t control, and therefore, lashed out at the nearest target. Me.
I struggled with offering forgiveness. How was I to bridge this vast expanse?
In their book, The Smart Stepmom, Ron Deal and Laura Petherbridge, offer thoughts on forgiveness: “If you are waiting until the feeling to forgive comes upon you, it’s unlikely to occur. Forgiveness is an act of obedience to God because we trust him and believe He has our best interest at heart. When we cling to revenge, anger, and rage it often destroys us spiritually, emotionally, and physically.” (emphasis mine)
They go on to say, “Christ paid too much for his beloved ones to become slaves to anything, much less hatred. He wants his children free. And a person is never free when he or she is weighed down with the ball and chain of bitterness. When the cold shackles of revenge are tightly clasped around our wrists, it’s impossible to lift our hands in praise to Him.”
A pastor friend offered some insight a few years ago. He said:
1. Forgiveness is always the responsibility of the person who is injured.
When offended by our stepchildren, we can’t wait until they offer an apology to forgive them. As an adult and child of God, It is our responsibility to offer forgiveness, regardless of the other person’s actions.
2. Forgiveness is usually based on grace.
Isn’t that a good line?!?! I love it! We do not forgive others only when we think they deserve it. They may never deserve our forgiveness. But I didn’t deserve the forgiveness Christ offered me on the cross either.
3. Forgiveness might bring mutual peace.
But then again, it might not. Offering our forgiveness doesn’t guarantee it will be accepted. The relationship may not be reconciled through our amends. But we can find peace through our forgiving actions.
It isn’t easy being a stepparent but it isn’t easy being a stepchild either.
And forgiveness is rarely easy, but it’s essential to a healthy relationship. I don’t always get it right, but I try to live by the instruction given in Romans 12:18:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Have you experienced a forgiving/forgiveness issue with your stepchildren? Do you need to offer forgiveness to someone today?
I wrote about forgiveness in an earlier post here. It might be of interest to you!