Mollie Talbot shares the true meaning of “love your neighbor” and what it really means to love authentically.
by Lindsey Racz
I am a step-mom. I am not evil. At least, I didn’t use to be. I used to be a girl who dreamed of marrying a hunky man of God, having lots of babies with said hunk, and building a quaint little homestead with hunky man and hunky man’s babies. But alas, as many of us have discovered, our earliest dreams don’t always pan out exactly as we plan.
My first attempt at this dream didn’t go so well and I became a single mom at a young age. After a tender season of brokenness, healing and walking hand-in-hand with the Lord, I learned this dream of mine had become an idol to me. Which, of course, is why God allowed it to be stripped away.
Once I made Jesus my priority over any other dream, and because our God is a God of endless restoration and grace, He did indeed bring my original dream to fruition. Sort of. I met Matt. Hunky? Yes. Tall, dark, and handsome? Check, check, and check. But the greatest part about this new gift was nothing physical at all. I could see Matt’s heart was completely humble before the Lord. He was not perfect, but he was earnestly seeking God with all he had. And this, girls, made my heart tumble and flip in new ways! Commence falling madly in love.
Getting close to Matt meant getting to know his 8-year-old son who lived with him 50% or more of the time. Matt also got to know my 4-year-old-daughter well. There were four hearts—not two—becoming entangled in future dreams of a family. I cannot overstate that this delicate process took time, caution, and lots of prayer. But when Matt proposed on the rocky shores of Maine, I knew this man was my forever.
We were married and It. Was. Beautiful.
I was not evil that day. In fact, I can’t tell you when I became an evil step-mom. You see, evil often creeps in a cracked back door and sets up shop before we even know it’s arrived.
In our first year of marriage, I began struggling with feelings toward my step-son I didn’t want to have. Confusing feelings. Yucky feelings. Terrible, no good, very bad feelings. How could I care so recklessly for a little boy one moment and two seconds later feel as though he was an intruder in my home? I felt resentful and jealous. I looked at my new husband who was knocking this step-parenting thing out of the ballpark with ease. But me? I was struggling with concepts as simple as being nice. What was wrong with me? I had indeed become the evil step-mother.
Thankfully, life is not meant to be done alone. Had I continued in isolation and yuckiness, I’m certain I would still be there today. I knew I needed some help. I began to pray earnestly for guidance in my new role. I searched the web for literature on blended family dynamics. I sought out other step-moms—good women who also knew the Lord—and learned I wasn’t alone in these feelings! Glorious relief! I wasn’t crazy! Or evil! Or alone!
You see, the step-mama conundrum is a very real one. There’s a reason we often become evil. We, like peanut butter in a PB&J, are stuck right smack dab in the middle. Between good intentions and less than ideal circumstances. Between dreams of unity and realities of split weekends. Between holiday cheer and schedules that don’t align. Between love and resentment, past and present, spirit and flesh. We are just so very human. There is only One who can help us in this desperate state of stuck-ed-ness. His name is Jesus Christ.
I am so, so thankful that on my days of selfish, evil-stepmom mentality—those days when I can almost hear myself with an evil cackle—my Lord and Savior has not left me alone! He promises His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9) and that if we lean into Him, the things that are impossible for us become possible (Luke 18:27). That, my friends, is very good news for this very weak mom who often sees things through an impossible lens.
Fellow step-moms, I don’t know if you’ve been where I’ve been, but I’m willing to bet you have. Because even amidst mercy that abounds from second chances, we often find ourselves disillusioned, disenchanted, and disappointed. All these dis-es can drag even the strongest woman under. Unless, of course, she reaches out and grasps onto one thing.
Love. Colossians 3:14 tells us that the most important thing we can put on in the morning is love, which will then, in turn, bind us together in perfect unity. 1 Peter 4:8 doesn’t mince words either,
I don’t know about you, but I need some sin covering!
My step-son, whom I do not ever refer to as my step-son but simply as my son, is now 13. I’ve watched him grow from an 8-year-old with red cheeks to a 13-year-old who now towers over me and makes me think there’s an unidentified man in my home every time I hear his deepening voice. I love this boy with all my heart. Sometimes the urge is still there. To be resentful. To feel slighted. To show favoritism. To be the evil step-mother. Yes, these urges still come, and when they do I must be intentional. I remind myself that I have just four more years with this precious kiddo under my roof. Four years to show him the love of Jesus. I grab a bible, text a friend, and above all, put on love. Love is the antithesis of evil. The two cannot exist together. Goodbye, evil step-mom. I choose love.