Blessings, brothers and sisters! We are the Floyds, and we are some of the newest members of this incredible community of faith known as Grace City. How blessed are we to be a part of this world-class church?
We are a BIG blended family with FIVE children—his, hers, and theirs. Frankie has a 15-year-old son named Jayden, and Yolanda has an 11-year-old son named Caden, but we make no distinction in our household; they are all OUR children. Now in Real Estate—he does the loans, she finds the homes—we are by no means strangers to the church. We planted a church in Lakeland 7 years ago and have more than a decade of experience as pastors.
Our love for people has always seemingly come easy, but when it came to blending our family for the first few years, it was much more difficult than anything we could have ever imagined, especially for me (Yolanda). When we first got married 6 years ago, we had bought into the fairy tale lie that we would be “living happily ever after” and enjoying a never-ending honeymoon (even THAT was complicated and somewhat dysfunctional, but a story for another time). Like most would suggest, we thought we would be having the best years of marriage in the beginning and living our best life, but that could not have been further from the truth. In fact, there were many moments during the onset of our matrimony that we contemplated if we would even survive YEAR ONE! However, some perspectives may prove helpful in understanding our struggles. Both Frankie and I had lived as single parents during the years before “becoming one,” and uniting our worlds (and our kids, then aged 5 and 10) proved to be quite a disastrous collision. We definitely were not prepared to walk through blending a family, and there were so many bullets outside of our peripherals that we did not and COULD NOT see coming! As a result, we felt totally blindsided, defeated, isolated, and lost.
Let’s crash into the bottom line: (it hurts to type this, and tears are currently swelling up in my eyes) I DID NOT LOVE MY NEW SON. There, I said it. I know that’s so hard to read (because it’s so hard to say). I am probably getting many weird looks on the other side of this letter, and a few may even begin to judge me, but I flat out just didn’t. It was so unnatural for me to give him the love that I thought would come so easy to me because, well, I LOVE PEOPLE. I mean, as Christians, made in the image of God, that’s what we do, right? I cannot begin to recount the innumerable nights I stayed up crying and searching for guidance and help from Christian believers who loved the Lord and could offer their experience and insight; others who too were madly in love with Jesus but didn’t love their stepchild. Ugh! I wanted so desperately to connect with someone who was feeling or who had felt the same way! But, unfortunately, there aren’t sufficient resources available to this large and growing demographic within the church known as Christian Stepfamilies. Left even more discouraged, we had to continue to battle and turn directly to God’s Word and rely tirelessly on the Holy Spirit to muster the strength to fight yet another day. And then another.
Confounding the situation was the fact that I was having a hard time with having a hard time, especially because none of my dilemmas was based on the fact that Jayden wasn’t lovable or a “good boy”—heck, he was a straight-A student, an excellent athlete, and overall well-rounded and well-behaved—but it was simply the dynamics of our relationship(s). For 5 years, it had been just Caden and me, and my world basically revolved around him. Now all of that came to a screeching halt. His new brother did not like sharing his things, food, or time with his dad. He, too, had been the only child in his other home. Add to this recipe many failed attempts at compromising parenting styles, and you can see how our buffet needed some serious attention. I began to scour the Scriptures for verses addressing blended families, and I couldn’t find ANY. “Lord, where can I find help for my struggling step-family?” “Jesus,” I heard. “Of course, God, I know that always. But really, where can I find the help I need?” Jesus. Wait, what? How had I missed this glaring fact in all of my years as a Christian and reading the Bible? JESUS WAS RAISED BY HIS STEPFATHER. It’s ok; you can read that line again. And again. I know I’ve had to.
By no means do I intend to be sacrilegious or disrespectful, but it is quite the overlooked fact that our Lord and Savior Himself was indeed a part of a stepfamily of sorts. Joseph, knowing full well that he was not Jesus’ biological father, accepted his role of unconditionally loving leadership in the young boy’s life and guided Him knowing that he played no part in “creating” or “birthing” him. Jesus, too, especially as He grew older, had to humbly submit Himself to a man he understood did not participate in His conception. With this newfound revelation came inspiration, revival, and FREEDOM. I truly now possessed the power to CHOOSE to love my bonus son as if he were my own. Not with an asterisk next to his name. Not to a lesser level than the other 4 children I carried in my womb. But to actually love him as my son whom God had given me.
Let’s face it: loving someone else’s child as if they were your own is NOT NATURAL. But it can be SUPERNATURAL. For example, I never thought I could love a child that I physically did not birth to the degree that I cherished those I carried. But the Lord corrected that misconception, and He can do the same for you. Now we are thankful to be connected and growing at a church that recognizes the challenges and complexities facing families like ours and will help us flourish into the future, our beautiful mess and all.
Sundays 9:30AM | 11:15AM | 6PM
Lakeside Campus 1736 New Jersey Rd, Lakeland, FL 33803