Thinking back to my childhood years, I always enjoyed working with connect-the-dot pictures in workbooks. In an air of expectation I’d go from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 and so on, drawing the straightest lines I could. Slowly the image would take shape on the page and then stimulate my mind—ah, the sense of discovery!
Once all the dots were connected and the image was visible I would colour the image, unless I moved right on to the next page in the book.
Connecting the dots is an important practice in revealing the promised identity of the thing; so our image takes shape.
So it is with blended families. It takes some time before all the dots are connected; before a safe ‘n’ sound family identity—like the image—begins to take shape.
I know first hand the yearning in being a blended-family parent; to want everyone to get along, yet in that desperation we can become the very barriers we ought to have avoided becoming in the first place.
Trying Too Hard
In our efforts to facilitate harmony—to connect all the relational dots—we may inevitably try too hard and push people away. We may come across as manipulative despite our best intentions.
Then there are those who may be stuck in the midst of the difficult rapport, frustrated by either their failed or rejected efforts or by resentment for what has happened to, or occurred within, “my family.” None of this (what has occurred) is fair on anyone.
The sense of variegated injustice in blended family dynamics is polarising.
In taking sides we seek for justice and to communicate our love, liking and disliking, but we are inevitably no happier. The horrible truth persists—we will only be truly happy when everyone else (so far as it’s possible for us to negotiate) is content.
This means—despite those who refuse to play the game of our objective: Unity—we can be content when we have done all that can be done. Or we should be content.
Leaving What We Cannot Control for God
The rest of what we cannot achieve on our own, which includes our ongoing cooperation, we leave to God. Many and varied are these things.
God will augment the dynamics if we will mindfully surrender them to him. God can make remarkably simple that which we make awkwardly complex, verging on the impossible. And considering what little we might do to interrupt progress, even this may lead to very undesirable outcomes.
It is best we are patient. Blending the family so it doesn’t curdle often takes years.
Blended family dynamics tend more to be about a good overall consistent approach, where, in faith, we keep sowing in love—hoping and praying it will bear fruit. Persistence pays off.
Rarely does the work of faith go unrewarded, but we must sow without assurance of success—as if success were unimportant. It wouldn’t be faith otherwise; if we were ‘assured’ of success.
Unity within the blended family can take years of loving and sacrificial hard work. When we sow in faith, loving despite much evidence of scant returns, our work of faith will inevitably be blessed, eventually.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.