He had only been a licensed driver for a few weeks. Tossing him my keys, I watched him full of excitement to make his first major purchase with money he earned at his new job. He wasn’t gone long, and followed the rules there and back. As he walked in the door, the first words out of his mouth pierced my heart. He scraped the side of my van when pulling it in to the garage. My heart sank as I stood to walk outside and survey the damage. He was honest with me, and certainly didn’t mean to do it. My mind raced over what I was going to say and how would I handle this new to us situation.
As I surveyed the damage, I couldn’t bring myself to speak the words racing through my mind. What was he thinking? How could he have done this to my van? Why didn’t he stop when he first heard the scrape of the wall against the door? The questions built as I stood in silence not knowing how to handle this. My husband was not home to help me navigate through this uncharted territory. Why did I always have to be the bad guy?
Over the years there have been many times I wanted to force my husband to discipline this child a specific way. My way. I didn’t believe he knew how to discipline his son, and my fear of the long term impact on this child grew. Pushing and pulling my husband one way or another, I couldn’t do enough to make him be the father I thought his son deserved. Convinced of his weaknesses, I felt the need to step in and take over in ways he couldn’t or wouldn’t. The need to control and force an end result was truly out of my love for his child. However, during challenging times it became more about the fear of what would happen if I didn’t take control.
“You can’t make your ex be a good parent. You can only be the best parent you know how to be” was the advice I received early in our marriage. I took it to heart and carried it with me for years. There was just one missing piece in this statement. I would add we can’t control our current spouse and others who have an influence on our children. It is this reality that will cause fear to rise up in our hearts. The anger, fear and frustration will only feed the chaos and stress in our family’s lives. It’s when we recognize we do not have control over these influences, we must lay down the need to control and put our trust in God. While not always easy, when we trust God with our children, step children included, we can truly walk in His peace as a parent. We can encourage and suggest our thoughts and opinions to our spouse or family members, but we must remember, as those feelings of frustration and control creep in, to ask ourselves who we are trusting in that moment.
At the end of the day, my husband stepped up and settled the issue of the damage to the van. It didn’t require I say a word. I didn’t have to be the bad guy. My initial reaction was that to an old wound in my heart. In fact, I stepped out of the way to let my husband be the father he was called to be. It’s amazing how God works through my obedience.
Jesi Steiber lives in Fort Worth, Texas and is our newest addition to the MPN authors. She is married to a man she describes as “awesome,” who makes her smile every day. They have four children and four grandchildren. A favorite scripture is Ruth 3:11: “Now my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask. For all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”