We Are Blending
Blog by Chris Elliott
I am a Step-dad.
Yes, I just said it.
God placed two amazing young lives in my care. I could not be more honored, challenged and stretched.
My wife Christie and I have been married for almost four years now. Every day has been another step in the blending process. In order to keep ourselves in alignment during this journey, we identified a few hallmarks of a spiritually healthy home and stamped them on our hearts: Grace, Devotion and Hospitality.
The scriptures listed below sound great when the pastor reads them during the flowery speeches of a wedding ceremony; however, the nostalgia of these same words can go out the window in the heat of the moment. Who wants to have grace when your spouse can not or will not validate your version of reality? How in the world is anyone expected to “be hospitable” when you know the other person is wrong?!
Romans 12:4-6 NIV
For just as each of us has one body with many members… and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
Romans 12:10 NASB
Be devoted to one another in brotherly (or sisterly) love; give preference to one another in honor;
1 Peter 4:9 NASB
Be hospitable to one another without complaint (ouch).
The progression of these scriptures fits perfectly with the subject of this little blog. You see, each of us has been given the amazing privilege of being part of the ultimate blended family; the body of Christ. We were not given this opportunity because we deserved it in any way. It was because of His mercy. This miracle of redemption puts us in a divinely awkward situation where we actually belong to one another. Thank God for GRACE, right?
My wife and I just revisited the Personality and Gifts assessments we completed while attending the Journey sessions run here at Wave Church. We discovered that we were total opposites. Of course we are!
We LOVE being married; however, we express our thoughts and emotions in very different ways. Each of us gives and receives affection in a “language” the other does not fully appreciate at times. It is for this reason that we must be connected to a healthy “church family”.
As a couple, we must continually align our relationship together in the pursuit of a kingdom cause; with something that transcends who we are as a family. We depend on the community of believers, called the church, to help keep us on track. We all need each other AND we need each other to be different! It is no coincidence that the body of Christ is so eternally interdependent.
An older minister once told me that “marriage is not the blending of two lives; it is the collision of two histories”. Son, he continued, “you simply gotta pick out the pieces that no longer fit and move on!”
This process of “colliding” never really ends. It is what the adventure of family is all about. It is actually how we grow and develop as individuals.
Think about it; most innovations happen when assumptions collide with reality and are proven wrong. Thank God I have friends who will “introduce” a good dose of scriptural reality to my many assumptions every now and then. I am blessed to have friends with perspectives that are in total contrast with how I was raised. My marriage is better off because of them. Each of my kids has benefited from this process. Now we are blending.
So, what is it that turns these collisions into discoveries? I believe it is the Grace and Devotion stemming from a Hospitable heart.
As parents of a “blended” family, we have navigated our fair share of “discoveries”. It is for this reason that we must continually re-examine our connections, contributions and commitments within the context of our local church.
So, what does a “hospitable heart look like?
1. It sees:
– This could be as simple as a smile or a handshake.
A hospitable heart is not blinded by emotion or prejudices.
It is simply noticing others and is free to extend a helping hand.
2. It Shares:
– Generosity is the fingerprint of a hospitable heart.
It is not consumed with self-preservation but is quick to contribute when it has the means.
The response of a hospitable heart is helpful, not hurtful.
It seeks to resolve conflicts positively.
3. It speaks:
– Our heart talks to us and finds a way to express whatever is inside.
The health of our heart can be assessed by the size and nature of the challenge required to provoke a reaction.
A question I have learned to ask is, “would this anger God?” I am often casual with things God hates and consumed with things God could care less about.
We have discovered that God blesses our family in response to mutually agreed upon sacrifices, this in turn strengthens resolve and deepens the joy we share as parents and life partners. I believe the same is true with our church family
Can I ask a few simple questions?
When was the last time you placed yourself in the vulnerable position where a friend proved a long-standing assumption of yours wrong?
Has your thought process been called-up to a higher level of excellence by anyone close to you lately?
Is there a compelling purpose or cause, greater than the routine demands of everyday life, your wife and kids can connect with in a tangible way?
Is there anyone in your life, other than your spouse, with the freedom and influence to point out areas in your lifestyle that are contradictory to the teachings of scripture?
Let’s be honest; each of us is plagued by blind spots, incorrect assumptions and habits that could use a “collision” every now and then. We all need to blend. So, where can we find a committed group of people who will offer such Grace and Devotion? Where can we go to connect our family with an eternal perspective greater than our immediate circumstances or individual perspectives?
I am glad you asked. The local church is the hope of our world. It is the greatest blended family we can anchor ourselves to.