Growing up I was pretty sure that I knew everything about love…I mean, after all, what teenage girl doesn’t know EVERYTHING about love right? I grew up with parents who were married and loved each other well. In my house, words of affirmation and PDA were ever flowing. My parents had two kids, my brother Jordan and myself, and we constantly felt loved, secure, safe, and wanted. Ever since I was little girl I imagined having a family like the one I grew up in…I would marry a man as loving as my dad. Then this “perfect” man  and I would have “perfect” kids and live happily ever after, end of story. Easy peasy right?

Well, as great as my imaginary family was, God had different plans for me. In November 2016 I married a man who was practically perfect, and this amazing man had two beautiful daughters from a previous marriage. When I looked him in the face on our wedding day and promised forever, I had no idea that I would be entering into the most challenging, yet most rewarding season of life I ever imagined… stepmother hood. Now, after a year and half of marriage and being 9 months pregnant with our first child together, I look back at that teenage girl who had it all figured out, and I laugh.

Being in a blended family is definitely not for the faint of heart… or those without a good sense of humor. I have learned more about love this year and half than I ever have before. There is a verse in the Bible that many of us have heard countless times, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Now this all sounds really great… until YOU are the one that has to love someone this selflessly. And although I’d like to say I’m good at it…lets not get carried away…I think it’s more fair to say it’s a work in progress at best.

Loving a child can be a fairly easy thing to do for anyone, what’s difficult is loving children that aren’t yours, but they are yours at the same time… and mothering children who have a mother, although you are still their mother, but you’re also not their mother, yet you still need to parent and mother them, and tone it down when their mother is there, but not too much so you don’t lose their respect. Confused yet? Me too. This has been the dance for me and it’s not an easy one. Trusting and leaning on God has never been more important.

Now for the hardest part…. Loving my stepdaughters’ mother. Did I really just say that? Yes…. yes I did. Not just tolerate, not just communicate with, but LOVE her. To love her like Jesus asks us to love means that I ‘hold no record of wrongs’…wait what?! It also means that I persevere through the hardest of times, not just for her sake or mine, but also for the kids and my husband as well. Can you truly love someone that hurt the person you love the most? Let me tell you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and sometime I fall short…or maybe a lot of times…but hey, it’s a work in progress. Love is an action, not a feeling, so to truly love her and the blended family that I am in, means that I have to forgive her every morning, first thing. It means that my human desire to be right can’t outweigh the desire for peace and to love and forgive.

For the record, my stepdaughters’ mother and I get along well for the most part, and I am sure there are things that I do that really bother her also, but like I said, it’s a dance. It’s learning to pick your battles, learning to forgive, and loving even when it’s difficult. I love my blended family… it’s no fairytale, but it’s a love story of the truest kind… what I call, a beautiful mess.

ABOUT PARIS WAGNER MURPHY

Paris Murphy is a Los Angeles native, daughter to Pastors Philip and Holly Wagner, and CEO and Founder of City of Lights International; a non-profit organization dedicated to providing emergency care to orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda. Paris is married to David, stepmother to two little girls and is expecting her first baby, a daughter, Justice Reign, any day now. Graduating from California State University Northridge, Paris has a degree in Social Welfare, with emphasis in Child Development and International Relations. She is passionate about seeing vulnerable children getting the love, care and education they deserve. She really enjoys writing and speaking and hopes to encourage people through her life experiences..