“ Do you really think anything about this life can be “great”? I mean, what would it take to make what we go through even o.k.?”
I stared across the table at my beautiful friend responding to my cry for marriage and family to be great again, and questioning if step-family and second marriages could ever come close to the intimacy and closeness that families of first origin seem to be born with.
Sadly, I knew what she was saying. Each and every day I wake, I see broken. As I pass by the pictures in our hallway to head downstairs, I see a fragmented combination of two families trying to pick up the shattered pieces to fuse together and operate as closely as they can as one.
Problem is, fusing doesn’t work. No matter how much we want to operate as a whole family, we never will. That reality crushes my hope and leaves me utterly sad. So, what to do?
We were recently blessed with our first “ours” baby. She brought so much joy to our hearts. There were quite a few happy moments listening to our kids trying to figure out whom she looked like and where she got what traits. She seems to bring all of us together into one person. Bound by human blood.
I could go on here and talk about how the blood of Christ binds us in a way no human could, but that isn’t where I am feeling led today. See, I look into her face, and the expectation of having that little family bubble like you do in families of origin is impossible for her. She has been brought into this brokenness too. She will always know that her siblings have other parents and other loyalties. Issues that we shouldn’t have to deal with, we do. The other week one of the kids in talking to her referred to one of us by our first name… no.. I am her mommy and dad is her daddy, end of story- approaching that stinks. Holidays after my husband and I are gone will be broken with the fact that she will have no other family to celebrate with.
I recently sat at a table surrounded by precious women seeking after God and learning about His perfect love. As on most first days, we went around the table introducing ourselves. Names, then years of marriage followed. I felt the lump in my throat grow larger as my turn was coming. “What was I going to say? What would they think? “ I mulled over my words. Ashamed, I could feel the weight of the albatross like necklace growing heavier and heavier. Tears welled up and I tried my best to choke them down.
My turn came.
“I’m just going to lay it all here out on the table right now. I’m Becky Nordquist. I used to attend here for 18 years until my first husband abandon me with our four kids. I am remarried and we have a new little baby, Grace. I’m here because I need to work through loving well. I need to grow here because I do not love our exes well, and I realize that as a child of God, I’m called to forgive and love well. I hope to use what God teaches me, to encourage and help others.”
I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and left the room to go feed the baby.
Thank goodness the nursing room is secluded. I sobbed as I rocked back and forth nursing our sweet Grace baby. I wanted to leave, quit and never come back. Tears streaming down my face, inwardly I screamed.
“God! I HATE this! I hate having to wear the scarlet letter of divorce! I did not choose this! I hate what it’s done to our kids, what it’s done to us! We didn’t want this! Other people chose it for us and we’re stuck carrying the load! I hate that I have to live in shame and embarrassment!” All I heard was…
“I know. I know about bearing things that you didn’t choose.”
“We don’t attend small groups anymore.” She said with a saddened look on her face.
“Why?” I questioned.
“Because of the first meeting… you know, you have to give the litany of your life… the how long have you been married always comes up. Then you feel like people are looking down their noses at you. You never really get the chance to explain that you were cheated on and had no say in the matter, and a lot of times that wouldn’t matter anyway. We got tired of feeling judged and no one really understands.”
My heart broke. Others wanted to ditch community too because of the hideously heavy necklace we are forced to wear. The only ones who really understand are the ones who bear the same burden.
Then I hear a whisper,
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
My flesh cries-“Rest?! How is there anyway possible to obtain rest here?! In this mess?! We have kids who want nothing more than to see their parents together, no matter how miserable, busted relationships, a full spectrum of emotions, people who want their say on how we live our lives.. rest? Where?! How?”
Then Truth speaks…
Rest in knowing that in the midst of broken lives, broken ideas, shattered hopes, and fragmented dreams, HE is WHO He is. He will be faithful to show me what I need to learn here. He will use me to love and help to heal others. None of this goes wasted. Refinement is precious, it means we are loved so much that God Himself chooses not to leave us the way we are, but to advance us to maturity, in order that we be useable, and even more ready to meet Him face to face.
Now more than ever, we(Dave and I) are committed to seeking out a place for stepfamilies to have community too. We need it more than the average family and marriage. The unique set of circumstances and the levels of brokenness are too difficult to traverse on your own. We need each other. We need each other because iron sharpens iron my friends. When we are called to love and pray for those who persecute us, our enemies… most often they can be called steps & Exes- we need each other and the strength of an Almighty Super Powerful God!
I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me strength!