Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
If we are being completely honest here, I have been convicted of a couple things lately: my quick temper, and my nagging pessimism. These two things, together or separate, are terrible traits for a stepmother to have. Unfortunately, it has taken me nearly thirty years to accept that I possess both. And not only do I possess them both, I pretty much daily spew them out of my mouth like hot screws! As the apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans chapter 7, verse 24, “What a wretched man I am!” Basically. Aaaannnddd then I’m depressed. Great. Rabbit hole here I come.
NO! I am trying so hard to break this cycle! The Lord has laid many passages of Scripture on my heart, but I’m making Romans 12:2 my daily mantra, “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I have it written in liquid chalk on my dresser mirror, so that every morning when I wake up, and every time I pass by that mirror, I am reminded that I constantly need to be alert and aware of how quickly my thoughts can turn to negativity and anger. Anger towards my husband, my daughter, and my stepdaughters.
A couple weekends ago my family went on an annual camping trip with my in-laws. This trip is something everyone looks forward to each year- being outdoors, letting the kids run free, adult conversations; no worries. And Smores! There is no wifi at the campground, so phones are usually always plugged into their chargers in the camper. It was early evening one night, we had just finished dinner and the kids were playing cornhole with their nini and paw, when my phone starts blowing up. I ignored it. But then a minute later my husband’s phone is buzzing. Immediately my pessimism, negativity, and anger began to boil to the surface, and quick! I jumped up to see what the fuss was about- sure enough, it was HER. Ugh. Eye roll. “What does she want?! What is so urgent?! She knows we’re on vacation, leave us alone!” Tax-free weekend. Seven text message pictures of bookbags, demanding to know which one the girls wanted for school. And then, she calls my mother-in-law! I instinctively yelled out, “Don’t answer it!” The look of pure shock on my mother-in-law’s face! 😦 Oops. But what really got me? The look my stepdaughter gave me. Kife:heart. Romans 14:17 says “A quick-tempered person does foolish things.” How true that was in that very moment. I can’t even begin to describe to you the flood of emotions that overcame me at that moment. What had I just done?! I feel so foolish for reacting so negatively, and so quickly, AND right in front of my stepdaughters! How stupid can I be?! This is where Romans 12:2 kicks in. I literally had to tap out for a minute, collect myself, my thoughts, my emotions. Reel it all back in, put everything into perspective. I prayed. I praise my great Lord for his grace and mercy! He gently reminded me, that, “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails,” Lamentations 3:22. So I picked up all my broken, messy pieces, and gave them to God. In doing so, God shed light into my momentarily darkened heart and showed me that this really is no big deal. Did I really want to ruin the camping trip over this? It wasn’t worth it.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This is why I say this is my daily mantra. Daily I must make the choice to not assume the worst. I must make the choice not to have a quick temper. I must daily make the choice to be a better wife, mom, stepmom. I wish I could say the gentleness and patience that every successful stepmom (is there such a thing?) possesses comes easily to me, but it doesn’t. But I must also reward myself for even being self-aware, and to begin making the changes. Change is hard, it’s hard for everyone involved. As I’m figuring out, other people don’t like that you’re changing, either. But I do know this, I’m growing. Spiritually, emotionally, physically. And that’s what matters most to me. I want to be the best me I can be, and in order to do that, I have to change the way I think.
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
– Nelson Mandela