If someone came to me five years ago and said, “You will mother five beautiful daughters,” I would have laughed and told them they were crazy. The first reason would be because I suffer from infertility and the second reason would be my sanity.
For ten years I battled the grief of infertility. Every time I turned to the Lord his answer would be, “In the Lord’s time. He has a timing for all things.” Little did I know these words were about take on an entirely new meaning.
In May 2015, my current husband and I married. He had three beautiful daughters from a previous marriage and I had one. Regardless of how much we loved each other or each other’s children, figuring out how to find a balance in life, kids and marriage was difficult. We had no clue what we were doing. Obviously there is no manual on parenting stepchildren or how to have a happy marriage with stepchildren.
Angel Abrea of the Quorum of the Seventy said, “Patience in affliction and adversity means to persist firmly and never forsake that which we know to be true, standing firm with the hope that in the Lord’s due time we will gain an understanding of that which we do not understand now and which causes us suffering.” (General Conference April 1992)
Among all the challenges of trying to blend a family, my husband also just started his career, both of us worked full-time, had his daughters half-time, my husband severely injured his back and was told he needed surgery, and the list goes on.
Our home was chaotic. Because we were so overwhelmed and felt complete with our family, we decided we were happy with the four girls and didn’t need to try for a child. I emotionally accepted this and found peace with not having another child. But guess what? Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Talk about being at the mercy of the “Lord’s Timing.”
At this exact moment I surrendered to the Lord’s will. I became extremely ill and let go of everything. No more control, no more doing things my way, no more self-directing. I was at His mercy. I had to turn to the Lord in prayer and begged for relief and help. He answered and the doors of heaven flooded our home.
Friends and family stepped in and did our grocery shopping, they cleaned my home, my daughters pulled together to clean and take care of each other, I survived the illnesses without being hospitalized, and both my husband and I were given the strength we needed to endure. Our burdens, weaknesses and trials were not taken away, instead we were strengthened through Christ to withstand the storms.
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “Recognize that some challenges in life will not be resolved here on earth. Paul pled thrice that “a thorn in the flesh” be removed. The Lord simply answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
He gave Paul strength to compensate so he could live a most meaningful life. He wants you to learn how to be cured when that is His will and how to obtain strength to live with your challenge when He intends it to be an instrument for growth. In either case the Redeemer will support you. That is why He said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When you feel you can do no more, temporarily lay your challenges at His feet. The scriptures tell you how. For example, when the oppressed people of Alma “did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts,” the Lord blessed them, saying:
“I will … ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that … you cannot feel them, … that ye may know … that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
“And … the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Elder Richard G. Scott, General Conference April 1994)
We have a long road ahead of us, every family does. But we now strive to do it in righteousness and obedience to the will of the lord.
If I can offer any advice for blended families, here are three things I would suggest:
1.If at all possible, hire a maid for the first 6 months to a year. Superwoman is a fantasy. Use wedding money. It’s ok to get a little extra help. It will help you to get balanced faster.
2. Remain steadfast in your faith, obedience and example. Children are watching and listening to you even if they appear not to.
3. Your spouse comes first, no matter what. Unity in the marriage is the most important. Work out your issues privately and set clear rules and expectations before setting them with the children. It’s ok if they are not figured out right away. Be patient and tell the kids the rules may change but for now this will be the rule. Allow the children to also provide input to the rules, sometimes they have the best suggestions or resolutions.
Trust in the Lord’s plan for you, believe in the gift of family He has entrusted you to manage. For those working towards blending a family, it’s essential that you allow the natural affects and emotions to take place. Not to push or force unity. The step children don’t have to love or even like you right away.
Each of you are perfect where you stand in the process of blending together, everyone will be ok. Step back, breath, let go of what you can’t control, and allow the Lord to work his miracles. Don’t self-sabotage the work of the Lord with your impatience or self-direction.
Mele Eldredge is a proud mom (and bonus mom) to five beautiful daughters and a wife to one CRAZY GOOD-looking husband. She is passionate about her children’s education and remains involved through volunteer opportunities in their schools and community. Mele has an extensive background in the legal world due to working as a paralegal for over 10 years. Apart from family and work, Mele’s passions are therapeutic healing, writing, and music. For the last four years, Mele has focused her learning skills on emotional healing and working towards becoming a mentor/life coach. She has discovered how empowering one can become with proper emotional self awareness/management. Mele is as honest as they come and tells it how it is. Being authentic is the only way to be for her. Courage comes from facing hard stuff, especially yourself and your weakness. "By truly facing and then accepting who and what we really are, we will finally begin to truly love ourselves."