Monthly Archives: December 2016

How I Found Hope for Step-families in Christmas, Part 2

Read part one, How I found Hope for step-families in Christmas, of this series here.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were a step-family who experienced their own struggles, just like step-families of today.  Their story offers us hope and optimism when step-families may feel isolated and misunderstood.

Because Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1: 19-20 (NIV)

The last couple of years, I’ve allowed myself time on Christmas Eve to sit quietly and reflect on the story of Mary. It is difficult to imagine the social scorn she and Joseph must have endured during the pregnancy of Jesus. When I really start to think about the depth of their faith…their conviction and belief in God…it truly takes my breath away.

I am sure they were rejected and ridiculed by people they believed to be their allies and confidants. They must have felt as deserted as Tom Hanks in Castaway – even though they were together.

While Mary was likely mocked and taunted by her peers, Joseph must have had several of his friends trying to talk some sense into him.

“Joseph – you need to get away from her…she’s going to drag you down. It’s not even your kid. Run, man – fast! You have no obligation to her – she’s broken the relationship. You’re crazy if you marry her.”

What deep love and loyalty Joseph must have had for Mary. Otherwise, how could he have had confidence in Mary’s story of an angel coming to tell her that she’ll be impregnated with God’s only Son?

Joseph did not listen to the naysayers. He stayed true to his heart, his faith and his love for Mary and the unborn child she was carrying. God confirmed Joseph’s heart and sent an angel to him to reassure him of the Immaculate Conception. And Joseph became a step-father to Jesus.

As my journey of being a step-parent continues, I find peace in knowing that the Holy Family experienced their own pains of fitting into a society that didn’t understand or embrace the differences in their family.  Because we are all individuals with our own experiences and stories, the path of being a step-family is just as unique.

Because of the story of love shared between Mary and Joseph, I am reassured that in spite of the struggles of being in a step-family, there is hope, faith and love that will grow within me and outside of me along this path.

My hope for you this season is that you will find hope, faith and love on your journey. May you find connection in the coming year. Merry Christmas!

Believe. Create. Live.

© Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC 2016

This post was originally published as one post in December 2014.

How I found hope for step-families in Christmas

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were a step-family.

Surely, step-parenting for Joseph had to be easier than it is now. I mean, they didn’t really have to co-parent with other people…unless you count the Almighty God.

They didn’t have to split time with another set of parents…so, it must have been a breeze!

Well, actually, they did share time with another parent.

If you don’t know the story, here’s a little background.

When Jesus was 12, he disappeared from the large group his family was traveling with on their return trip to Nazareth from the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem.  Mary and Joseph had been frantically searching for Jesus for three days. When they found him, he was still in the temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine the panic? If I lost one of my step-sons for three days…oh my goodness, I cannot even imagine the panic, the guilt, and the shame…not to mention the anger from my husband and the boys’ mom – and rightfully so.

But, it was in that story when Jesus made it clear that there was a change in custody. That is when co-parenting, shared custody and moving between houses became the reality of this step-family. This is where I find connection, compassion, and hope for step-families.

When Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, Mary confronted Jesus. I find it interesting that Mary was the one to confront Jesus.  In biological families of origin, the father is typically the one to confront and implement the discipline for large infractions.  In a step-family, it is often a function of biological parents to discipline their children before a step-parent does. Perhaps this tells us that Joseph was functioning as many of us step-parents do – back-up coverage, the quiet position, or the support role.

Exasperated, and I’m sure a bit perturbed, Mary says something along the lines of, “What were you thinking? Why would you do this to us? We have been worried sick looking for you!”

Apparently, all parents take the behaviors and choices of their children personally.

Jesus responded, surprised they didn’t know where he was, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

I'm going to venture that none of us have fought for custody time with God.

What we begin to see is that Jesus’ time in His Father’s house increases—again that transfer of custody.  Doing the work His Father sent Him to do would mean less time with both Mary and Joseph.  I cannot imagine the pain they felt as they watched their son slip into his adult calling.  As a step-parent, I've felt that twist of heart - joyously seeing a child become independent and yet, also mourning the closeness of the relationship with someone you have raised as your own.

Sometimes, step-parents suffer silently. We are reminded often, through media, legal red tape, and unfortunately by some biological parents, that as a step-parent we are merely an accouterment, an accessory, in the lives of our step-children.

I wonder if maybe step-families should view the story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus with hope and optimism.

Rather than accepting the status as a faux family, step-families may wish to view Christmas as a reminder that faith, love and hope can create miracles in any situation…even those that may have a social stigma attached.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my thoughts about hope and love this holiday season.

Believe. Create. Live.

© Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC 2016

This post was originally published in December 2014.