“Please remove my name from your mailing list,” the woman’s email requested. “I am no longer a stepmom.”
My heart sunk as I finished her note. Divorce. Again. She became one of the census statistics which reports that 60-73% of stepfamilies fail. I wept for her as I remembered back thirty years to a failed marriage and the devastation, self-loathing and depression that followed.
My own painful childhood has often propelled me toward other hurting women. In my early years that urge presented itself in codependent deeds of enabling, people pleasing, and trying to rescue everyone. My tainted and distorted view of helping nearly caused a mental breakdown. Fortunately, God revealed and healed my need to please and now the scars serve a higher calling.
With His guidance the passion to help the hurting has morphed into a healthy outreach. Lately it shows up as, “Lord, help me to reach stepmoms before it’s too late. Please, show me how to provide help, healing and hope through stepmoms retreats.”
Last year when I had the idea to conduct a stepmom retreat I assumed it would be a one-time event. I asked a few stepmom sisters who offered a similar outreach to join me. And that one step, that one decision, rocked my world.
As a published author to stepmoms I’m familiar with women emailing me for stepfamily help. But at the retreat they were in my arms. Their tears, pending divorces, and the voices of their hurting children, were looking me in the eyes. And their begging pleas, “I’m afraid I might not make it. I feel like a failure. Show me how to survive in a stepfamily,” could not be silenced.
I knew this was merely the beginning. With no money, no sponsor, no guidebook to follow, and no web site I launched the ministry, Sisterhood of Stepmoms.
Before all of this occurred I kept thinking it might be a nice change to have a “simple, frilly, uncomplicated” women’s ministry. Something with laughter, pink ribbons and flowing butterflies that the church would embrace for the annual women’s luncheon.
But God had other plans. And I’m thrilled and passionate to be on the journey of helping brokenhearted stepmoms. That’s because of another email I received—one that reads differently.
“Dear Laura, Thank you for your ministry to stepmoms. I want you to know it saved my marriage. I was on the verge of divorce; I couldn’t take stepfamily living anymore. And you taught me that with God’s help I can learn how to live above the circumstances. You offered practical, no-nonsense, real life information which changed my attitude. My husband immediately noticed, and now I think we will make it.”
If you or someone you know would like to know more please visit www.SisterhoodofStepmoms.com
Laura Petherbridge is an international speaker and author of, When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t’, The Smart Stepmom, 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul. She has appeared at/on the Billy Graham Center, Family Talk (Dobson), Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, FamilyLife, Lifeway, and Moody Broadcasting. Laura has been a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series implemented in over 60,000 churches worldwide. In addition to the US, she has spoken in South Africa, Australia, and Canada. Laura and Steve live in Atlanta, Ga, and have been married for 35 years. She has two stepsons, daughters-in-law, and grandkids. She may be reached at www.TheSmartStepmom.com