It was rather depressing to hear about the biological and hormonal bond that takes root between mother and newborn during the beginning stages of my journey as step-mother. In fact, these words made me cry. A lot of things made me cry as I started to feel more and more out of control of my life in a way that was completely foreign to me.
As a teacher, I learned to follow specific processes in finding solutions to an imbalance in my classroom or conflict between students. Entering the process, I felt confident of reaching a solutions. This is far from how I felt as step-parent.
After three months of excessively and obsessively managing my husband and step-daughter, I collapsed. Many rookie mistakes had been committed, and I don’t even have to explain them because they’re so glaringly obvious: doing too much too fast, helping where help was not needed, expecting a new system to bring about desired change.
I struggle with what I’m sure many others struggle with: the household I joined was out of control – no consistency, no schedule, no organization. Socks were being stuffed where sock should never go; meals weren’t being fed at regular time frames. An 8-year-old was not acting according to what I believed were appropriate 8-year-old standards.
What was I supposed to do? I am CONTROL QUEEN. I come in to chaos and restore order. Surely, there’s nothing wrong with that!
So I dove in head-first to change the world, or in this case my family.
But I was missing something. I forgot the whole reason I was in this family in the first place. I fell in love.
Yes, my husband needed help raising his daughter.
Yes, an enforced meal regimen was needed.
Yes, this, this, this, this, and that needed to change.
My love for my husband was and is a love I had begun to wonder if I would ever experience. He’s my first everything: first date, first boyfriend, first lover. Loving him, however, was immediately two-fold. And I’m not referring to wedding vows or the popular yet true phrase “love is a choice.” I’m referring to his daughter.
I knew about her as I allowed myself to be swept away in the excitement of a romantic relationship. I knew that being with Kevin inevitably meant becoming a mother to this little girl. I knew I wouldn’t get him without her.
So I made a choice, a choice that required so much more sacrifice than I had initially imagined or – let’s be real here – even planned for.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39, NIV
Love backed by choice is powerful. God chose to love me before I was even conceived, and there is nothing that can keep me from his love. Being loved this way empowers me to love in the same way: choosing to love and letting my loved ones know nothing can stop me from loving them. But more importantly, nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Before trying to help or change or even manage my new family, I need to love them first. Because what’s love got to do with it? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.