This is a creatively written piece by Michelle Lozano, a wife and stepmother. She had a dream which helped her understand her roles in life and it gave her peace. May her story be an encouragement for stepmothers everywhere!
During the long period of trying times I’ve had as a step-mother, I had a dream once about a house by the ocean. The sun illuminated the sky, the seagulls sang a beautiful chorus, and the water was radiantly blue, soft, and peaceful. No sand stuck to my feet, no salt stuck to my hair. I walked to the door and an unfamiliar face opened it and welcomed me in. He walked me through the house, showing me the red furniture and beautiful paintings. The ceilings were soaring heights; there were no curtains on the windows to block the panoramic views of the water. We walked up a flight of stairs and he began unlocking latches on the walls, and hidden windows began to open. Other latches, when unlocked, allowed entire walls to disappear like pocket doors. The rooms expanded and contracted with ease, quietly and fluidly. One latch he opened allowed an entire wall to slide outward, past the exterior of the home. He sat down in a chair and let me push the wall outward. It went farther and farther until the water began to flow into the house, first past my feet and then through the room. I stopped, stunned, horrified at the elements the beautiful house would now be subjected to: mold and corrosion. The wooden plank floors were wet, and the water flowed in inch by inch, like the ebb and flow on the seashore. “What about the wood?” I asked. He sat there calmly and said, “It will be alright. The water won’t corrode the house. It was designed this way, sealed from every element, able to hold the water.” I understood in that moment, that the house wasn’t made for water views. It was made to be a part of the ocean.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” -Proverbs 24:3
During the first four years of our marriage, I succumbed to the elements of being a step-mother and they began to corrode my spirit: not being wanted, not being invited, not being acknowledged, not being appreciated, but instead being judged in every dark light his sons and his ex-wife could conjure between the three of them. The expectations our society lays upon step-mothers is painful, to say the least: forget yourself, create and maintain peace, be the bigger person, accept faults, love more, share more, and give more. The road is endless, and it can yield absolutely no returns during very long, bitter seasons of sowing.
Before I married a man with children, I believed I was a woman who could open myself up and love anyone, like the house could receive the ocean. But during the trials of our marriage, I began to be imprisoned in rigid places of hurt, resentment, anger, and bitterness. I lost trust and faith and hope. My spirit resided in a house built with unfinished wood, and being exposed to and soaking up the elements of the earth. Nothing moved or opened or slid away easily anymore. There were no water views; no sunlight. There was only me, my fear, my dread and regret. My marriage began to be my greatest failure.
However, through God’s Word, I began to understand through all of the darkness that God desired something great for me instead of expecting something great of me:
“Do not fret because of evil men, or be envious of those who do wrong, for like the green grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” – Psalms 37:1-4
The most consuming element I had to seal up my heart against was his sons and his ex-wife. The hurt resonated deeper and deeper with the passing days, like an echo through the ocean. Their words infected me like a cancer. However, God began to lead me down a different path.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, it is the Lord Christ you are serving” – Colossians 3:23-24
I remembered the house by the ocean and its wooden plank floors at the bottom of the blue ocean water that covered them. “Don’t worry, the wood is sealed,” I remembered the man saying to me, “it was meant to hold the water.” The mistake I made as a step-mother was leaving my heart exposed to his sons and his ex-wife, when my heart was meant to be sealed shut by God’s promise to me for peace. Only God’s Word, I realized, could seal up my heart so I did not absorb the blows. Only God’s promises could keep me from being destroyed.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” – Psalm 37:5-6
I found much peace in this scripture, because I finally laid down the fight for my good name at God’s feet. David was saying here, my good name is in God’s hands, and it is His job to redeem it, not mine. My intentions with my husband’s sons are not my job to prove, but God’s. I accept this now. I have sealed up my heart against their approval, disapproval, happiness, anger, resentment, and every other emotional element that could soak into my heart and warp my stability. While my blended family is far from the perfection of Christ, it is still the work of God, and I believe God gave me a dream when I dreamed of that house. The walls will continue to shift, the windows will still expose our home, and the water will still rush in. But God’s Word still stands, and so will my house of many oceans.
– Michelle Lozano