Blended Families

Strolling the isles of a home décor and antique mall, my eyes caught the punch of faded turquoise from a sign hanging on the wall in one of the booths. A trellis of cream flowers provided the perfect accent color for my kitchen. It was beautiful and I knew exactly where I’d put it. As long as the price was right, it was going in my cart. I flipped it over and checked the tag. Half price?  Sold! They must have known the Dumpster Diva was out shopping today. As I snatched the sign off the wall and put it into my cart, I frowned. The words on the front of the sign might seem a bit off in my own home. Hmmm…I’m sure no one else would notice, but I knew. In bold letters, the sign boasted the words Family…Faith…Friends…It sounded like the home I wanted, but not the one I had. I always wanted a close family, but the home I grew up in was full of arguing and distance. My past upbringing became the lens through which I now saw my future. Oh, yes, I wanted a close knit family, but that was for “other” folk. I wasn’t worthy. I didn’t know how to be that way. I thought about putting the plaque back in the booth. Its words taunted me. “The roots of a family tree begin with two hearts.” How can I display a sign like that? John and I don’t even have kids together. We are a “blended” family. I have three children from my first marriage and he has one. Our kids weren’t exactly jumping for joy fifteen years ago when we announced our engagement. From their perspective, divorce shattered their reality. Our family didn’t begin with two hearts. It began with two heartbreaks. I glanced at the sign again. Faith…Friends…Do my children really share my faith? Are we really friends? Sometimes it seemed like I dragged them to church and when they were old enough to move out, they couldn’t pack fast enough. How can I display a sign like that? Won’t I look like a hypocrite? A façade of what I wished I had? Somehow I managed to squelch my doubts and bought it anyway. Even if I felt like a fraud when I read its words, I liked the colors. Now that I’m packing up my belongings to move to a new house, I’m deciding what to throw away, what to give away and what is worthy of taking the journey to our new home. I look at the sign once again. Faith…Family…Friends…Should it go or stay? Hmmm. A lot has changed since I bought it years ago. Not so much with my family circumstances, but with my own perspective. I used to think that my children needed to share my exact beliefs for us to be unified in faith, but over the years and through our struggles, I’ve learned to embrace their uniqueness and accept them for who they are, not what they do. As they’ve matured into young adults, I’ve realized that being friends with my children means letting them celebrate their own triumphs as well as make their own mistakes without someone telling them what they “should” do. As I took the canvas off the counter, a couple of questions came to mind: How could I have learned that lesson of grace if we’d always agreed? How could we truly be a family if there were invisible requirements and expectations restricting membership? That’s when I realized that God wasn’t as interested in changing others as much as He was in changing me. That’s usually the way He works. I often think it’s others who need to change, but God sees the bigger picture. I opened the box and placed the canvas inside. The plaque is going to the new house and I’ll even put it in a prominent place because… Now it feels legit. Plus…I still like the colors.    
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