How do you act big when you feel small? When you ARE small?
Do you remember the Friends episode where Ross made a pros and cons list for Rachel and Julie? He was trying to decide who he should date and he thought that making a list for each girl would help bring him clarity. Rachel accidentally saw the list – of pros and cons about her…the good AND the bad things that Ross saw in her.
At one point she says to him, “Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now, how would you feel if the one person that you trusted the most in the world not only thinks them too, but actually uses them as reasons to not be with you?”
I feel like in the last 24 hours I’ve had this scene on repeat in my mind. I’ve been going through something similar. Different characters, different roles, but eerily familiar. We all have our insecurities and I am not exempt from that. I feel small at times.
When I lived on my own before kids, or even when it was just Summer and I, it was easier to control who my weaknesses affected. My need for control and perfection wasn’t forced upon many people because I didn’t live with anyone except Summer and she was too young to know that I was annoying yet.
Nowadays, when it is just Summer and I home alone, I definitely feel more relaxed. I’m not as uptight…there aren’t as many people to ‘control’…I’m not outnumbered. I feel like I don’t need to bark out as many orders and it feels relatively doable. I still mess up a lot, but I feel like I manage better. I don’t feel small.
When there are 6 of us in the house, however, it is a different story.
I feel broken right now. I feel small. Broken. In the last 24 hours I have had my failures as a stepparent forced into my face. It has led to a barrage of questions.
My parents were my parents and not my stepparents, but did they ever have doubt? They always seemed to have it all together.
Were they ever on different pages? Did they present a united front and then go quietly argue behind closed doors? Did my mother steal away to the closet where she could cry alone over her shortcomings and her inability to correct them? Did she lay awake at night wondering if my dad would do a better job at parenting if she wasn’t in the picture? Did she tell us countless times to ‘go ask your father” because her fear at doing something wrong was so great that she was incapable of decisions? Incapable of even simple ones like: can we have a treat?
Then, change it to the picture of a stepparent and you can add questions like “Does my husband regret marrying me because of how I fall short with his kids? What if I screw up kids who I never should have had a chance at screwing up? What if I become the reason they don’t want to come to our house? Does my husband wish he could turn back time? Does he have a pros and cons list and the cons are longer than he realized? The same cons that are on my own list?”
Welcome to my brain in the last 24 hours.
I’m trying to silence the ‘condemnation’ part of my brain and put the ‘compassion’ section into overdrive but something is malfunctioning. I can’t stop this ache inside that makes me feel small.
I have grown to love my stepkids exponentially. In the last year alone, I feel like it has skyrocketed.
Today, however, I feel like Apollo 13…something has gone amiss and I don’t know if I will survive the journey. Survive myself. Not the kids. The kids are amazing and beautiful and loving and silly and endearing and honest and open and gentle and helpful and kind. This is not about the kids. This is about the stepparent. The stepparent who feels small.
How do other stepparents do it? How do you win the mental victory? How do you have grace and compassion with yourself that is the same size of grace and compassion that God has for you?
I feel like I’m in a boxing match but there is a major weight class difference and I’m going to get destroyed. Did someone mess up when they were creating the schedule? Did someone put me in the ring for a fight I was never supposed to be a part of?
Literally as I typed that I remembered something that Summer wrote yesterday. “Have you ever heard the story of Goliath? Did you hear that David just threw a stone and destroyed Goliath? Goliath was a giant and David was just a little boy. It means that if you’re small, you can do big things. People may look small but they have big minds.”
I feel small.
I feel mismatched.
I feel like there has been a typo on what was supposed to happen in my life…
That I’m not qualified for where I am or what is to come.
I am David.
He was small, mismatched, not qualified. Ugh. And probably if he went out there under his own strength he would have been destroyed…but he didn’t.
God was with him and gave him the strength he needed…to be big in his smallness.
And though the whirling of thoughts and questions has yet to stop today, I guess that is what I have to do. I AM too small for this task. Way too small.