Some couples have been dating for years and feel like a member of the family before even saying “I do.” Some of us meet our husbands, fall in love, get married, and figure the rest out as we go along. Well I’m apart of the latter group. But, no matter which group you belong to, when becoming a member of a new family there comes good and bad.
You know the saying, you can’t choose you’re family? When you get married, you can’t choose your family, friends, career goals, interests, or even taste in food. Everything becomes shared, as it should be when joining two as one. Of course certain things will remain only your decision, but ultimately everything is shared between you. Both of you become a team, partners, a duo, and everything that was yours becomes “ours”. Well when merging your lives, compromise is the understated word of all time when it comes to marriage, new family members, & new friends.
My husband is everything I ever asked for from God. In every single detail and more I was blessed to get to call him my husband and the father of my children. But boy did my husband come with some baggage, in my opinion. Becoming a member of this new family of mine was both good and bad, or just not so good. Why bad or maybe not so good? There is a learning curve and an adjustment period when thrown into a new family. I gape at the ups and downs I’ve had with my family-in-law. Not every member, but some members made it hard to feel accepted or truly apart of the family. In fact most family members were very warm and welcoming from the beginning. But there were a few that made it a rough transition. It seemed as if it was hard for some people to accept that my husband had married, or was it that he married outside his race, or that they were not use to having another woman in the fold? There could be more reasons, including my personality? I’d never had encounters with anyone in my life like this until merging our families.
Sure I’ve had people outright dislike me, but that was usually because I’d done something to cause it. Or they didn’t like me because they assumed something about me, but once getting to know me better they felt differently. I was always described by others as charismatic, upbeat, a little zany, full of smiles, and overall down to earth. In these situations it was never clear why I would get quips thrown at me, smug remarks, harsh attitudes, constant digs, or become the bud of a not so funny, inappropriate joke… and the list goes on. Regardless, God always prevails.
In response to their actions, I had many bad reactions that did not help the issue, or lack of an issue because nothing was directly communicated. Due to these experiences being so foreign to me, by people I’d hoped to immediately embrace, I was stooping to behavior I didn’t like. This is what God told me that changed my life forever when dealing with some of my family-in-law.
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:7-8 NLT)
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:10-12 NIV)
These verses convicted me of the way I speak to or about some of my new family members. Here in the book of James, God is telling us how we cannot love Him and at the same time speak evil or act in an evil manner towards those He loves. I am someone God loves and they are also someone God loves. God is also informing us that the tongue is a very wild beast, calling it restless, evil, and full of poison. Now that is nothing I want to be considered. I wouldn’t want my tongue to be described in such a manner. I knew through reading the book “Unglued” by Lysa TerKeurst and other wisdom resources, that I had to change my reactions and my responses.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NIV)
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalms 37:8 NIV)
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalms 34:17 NIV)
I recited those scriptures over and over until I had peace. They calmed my soul especially Psalms 34:17, it was my refuge. I had so much anger because I was trying to hold back how I really felt about the things that went on. I ignored problems which only made me harvest more anger and I became a teapot. So when I finally would speak up, I exploded and they had no idea where all of it came from because I missed the right timing.
Lysa TerKeurst calls this stuffing (see the book “Unglued”) in order to try and keep peace. Harvesting negativity or stuffing only makes things worse. So I began to right letters to each person that I had differences with and I did not send the letters. This was soul cleansing because I relieved my negativity by telling them exactly how I felt, the way I wanted to tell them but they would never see it. By doing this I had room to release frustration and then go back and find God’s ways of solving the problems, not my own ways. I started to sporadically but calmly discuss with each person one on one, or sometimes by phone, any issues that bothered me. I tried to not wait too long and I was completely honest and attempted to be humble. I exposed my sensitive side and my vulnerability which reciprocated the same from some of them.
My husband noticed all these things and noticed changes in me. These events brought my husband and I closer together. God showed him that I was now his immediate family and he began to have my back as such. It was a blessing to me for the growth opportunity and to see God bring my husband and I closer.
I need you to know once I started praying about each and every matter, was when I saw true change. When I sought out God’s wisdom through His word and the resources He has provided through others, was when I experienced true reconciliation with some of my new family members. We must continue to seek Christ, learn, study, and lean on each other in order to overcome our differences with family, friends, co-workers, etc.
These disagreements were in my life to challenge my faith, make me lean on Christ, and make me pray daily. I now have a testimony that can help someone else that will face struggles when merging families.
God definitely uses our union to mold us into the women He wants us to be. Dealing with my old emotions, old reactions, & old personality is not conducive to God’s plan (see James 1:19 & 20). There has been plenty of growth and reconciliation by everyone involved. I am happy to say there has been so much progress between all of us. Things may not be perfect but we must remember everyone processes change differently, everyone has different personalities which can clash at times, and everyone has an adjustment period.
This has a positive outcome because Christ loves us so much that He died for our sins. Because of His choice, we are able to have the Holy Spirit with us and an abundance of resources to guide us through our hard times.
Be blessed this week ladies. Read the above scriptures and share how God has used people in your life to help your spiritual growth. Comments below. Prayer requests on the page above labeled “Let’s Pray for Each Other”