You know the remarkable, one of a kind story, about Joseph, Mary and Jesus. The angel told Joseph that Mary was pregnant with the child of God and Joseph was to marry her and become the child’s stepfather. Can you imagine? We may struggle with the fact that our step kids are not “perfect” enough but Joseph was probably struggling with the reality that he was not the perfect one; his stepchild was! How do we raise another person’s child as if they are own? How do we include them into our heart? It can be so easy to see their faults and imperfections and without the history there, it can be easy to judge them but difficult to love them.
It’s through an inclusive attitude. An inclusive attitude says “we are all equally important, we have fundamentally the same needs and because we are all made in the image of God, none of us is less important than someone else. It doesn’t depend on age, race, faith, etc. Having an attitude that all people are important helps us to include new members into our families and to treat them with respect.
I recently spoke with a dear woman who is struggling terribly with her stepson. He is not easy. He has some emotional problems and has been diagnosed with ADHD. He is disruptive to the whole house, abusive and discipline of any kind has little effect on him. She is done! She loves her husband but this boy is too much to deal with. She has the job of staying home with him while her husband “gets to go to work”. What can she do? What should she do?
If this were her own child, she could not walk out. She would have to figure out a way to make it work. There is no back door. She’s his mom. If she can take on that kind of attitude with her stepson, “I’m a mom to him, there is no backdoor, God has given this child to me for some reason” it can give her the fortitude to stay and work it out. It’s perspective. A birth mom usually does not walk out on her child even though he may be difficult. If, as stepparents, we can become as committed to our step kids as we are to our own, we can become instruments in Gods hands in the lives of these kids.
Some of us may not want to be instruments in these kid’s lives. That takes a lot of work and infringes on what we want to do. But just as Father God does not want any to perish but all to come to the knowledge of Christ and has an Inclusive Attitude for any and all who will come into His family, then we too can model this attitude by His grace and help. We have been brought into the family of God through His amazing grace; can we do no less in welcoming a child into our family? I know some kids are really hard to accept and love so don’t try to do it through your own strength. You’ll fail.
And even when you try to do it in God’s strength, there may be times you fail. That’s okay. Get back up and try to love and accept and include that child again. One day you will realize that it’s happened! And so will the child. And your Heavenly Father will be well pleased that you have loved the “least of these”.
When Cindy married her husband she got more than she bargained for in her new stepdaughter. This child hated her from the start and didn’t want her in her home. And she was not quiet about making that fact known. But Cindy felt she had received God’s acceptance in her own life, she had recently been welcomed into His family and His kingdom. She felt she could do not less for her stepdaughter. It was so hard at times that she felt she couldn’t take another day. But she did. This stepdaughter is grown now and they are good friends. The stepdaughter thinks her step mom is the best person that has ever come into her dad’s life, she is grateful she stayed.
James 2 talks about favoritism being forbidden if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It says to love your neighbor as yourself but if you show favoritism, you sin and are breaking God’s command to love. God does not ask us to do anything that He Himself will not empower us to do.
It may be a process. God is working out some things in you so that you can truly include “that horrible stepchild” into your heart. God is with you in the process. It may take time for you to get to a place of acceptance and peace over this kid. It may seem that you take a step forward and five backward. The key is to continue to lean on God and don’t give up. Success will come.
What will it benefit you to love another person’s child? If you choose to do this, you are fulfilling the thing God asks of us to love our neighbor as ourself. And your spouse will love and respect you even more for it. They will hold you in high esteem for loving their child. When a parent sees their child being loved, the parent can’t help but to honor that person. But when a person sees their child being hurt or not included into someone’s heart, especially their spouse’s heart, it can and probably will create a wedge between them. The parent may feel “If you can’t love and include my child, you may not really love me”. If you feel your spouse does not accept your child, you know the pain I’m referring to.
I remember when I was in Middle School; there was a girl in my class that we will call Joanne. She was one of those kids that the other kids liked to pick on. She had some problems and as if she didn’t know it already, others loved to point them out to her. As if that were not enough, one day she came to school with “ringworm”. It was ugly and it was big and easily seen. When we asked her what it was, she told us. We all ran away screaming like we were going to get it. Nothing like causing another human being to feel bad about themselves. We could have been friendly to her, what would it have hurt us? But I’m sure our actions wounded her terribly. I’ve often thought of her and have wondered where she is today. I hope she has found her value in Christ and has the joy of experiencing respectful relationships with others. I don’t ever remember her being mean back. She just took the abuse. It makes me feel really bad today. Mistreating another person rarely makes us feel good about ourselves.
Having an inclusive attitude especially when they are EGR people does make us feel good about ourselves. EGR people are extra grace required people. God shows that extra grace to all of us every day. We may think we’re pretty special but compared to Christ we are all EGR people.
So embrace that child and when you think you can’t anymore, keep trying. If we are in Christ, we are a new creation and it’s not about us anymore. We’ve been bought with a high price; let us learn to love, accept and include our step kids into our hearts.
Some things to think about:
- When we see our stepchild’s faults and imperfections it can be easy to judge them but difficult to love them because we don’t have the history there. What can you intentionally do to include them into your family and heart? (A few suggestions are doing things with the child that they like to do, going to their games, inviting them on a “date” and act interested). ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- For those engaged: How would you describe your relationship with your future stepchild? What can you do to create the best possible outcome for the relationship?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- If you don’t show your stepchild that you like them, chances are they won’t like you. As the adult, what can you do to lead the relationship and show the child that you like them (even if you have to fake it. If we choose to embrace an EGR person, good feelings will usually follow). ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________