From Sprinting To Endurance: Overcoming Challenges In The Blended Family

I ran track in high school. “I wasn’t that good,” should immediately follow that sentence. I was not an endurance runner. I sprinted. I don’t recall coming in first in my 100- or 200-meter dashes. I made the fast runners look good.

Coincidentally, my preference is to sprint through life. I favor the quarter system over the semester system. I speed walk while others stroll. For the most part, that works for me.

Unfortunately, there is no sprinting to achieve heart connections in a blended family. Slow cooking takes time to unite people brought together through divorce or death or other broken relationships. A part of that slow cooking process is heat.

The parents are identified and say their vows. Place those ingredients in the pot. The kids are thrown in with or without their consent. A dash or two or three or four of those. The waters of life and schedules and rules are poured in. The lid placed on the crock pot symbolizes the house that is not yet a home. The crock pot is the confined space holding strangers wearing the label of family.

The cooking starts when the heat is turned on. The pressures of life come. The kids say hurtful things. Spouses witness unhealthy coping mechanisms in each other. The children manipulate their biological parents against the new stepparent. Parents prioritize their children over their spouse.

Ex-spouses file court orders for more time or more financial support. The children show signs of depression and increased anxiety. Family meetings turn hostile. The children refuse to enter the home while the stepparent is present. Property is destroyed. Hearts are broken.

Heat rises. These are not brief seasons for the blended family. This may be the way of life for years. It is on this journey that the Bible’s perspective on love is most applicable.

1 Corinthians 13:4 – “Love suffers long and is kind…”

A marathon is long. A marathon feels like a sprint compared to years of suffering in a blended family. Suffering long. Suffering affects every area of life. Emotional connections are superficial or nonexistent.

Physical wellbeing plummets as the body internalizes stress. Mental health wavers while trying to filter reality from figments of another person’s contrived stories. One’s spiritual identity is challenged amidst questioning if God really directed the covenant union with this other person.

The solution is difficult. The heat is painful. The desired result requires endurance.

Allow the situation to develop character not break the spirit. Choose to be patient each day with yourself. Be kind to your spouse. Show compassion to children and stepchildren even if your thoughtfulness goes unreciprocated. Allow an intimate group of family, friends, and therapists into the vulnerable spaces of your heart.

Trust that God sees your heart. Believe our righteous God is just and knows the hurt you inflicted on the same people who hurt you. Do not give up hope that true connections will be produced through heat. This isn’t a sprint. Keep running.

Resource to consider: “Blended and Redeemed: The Go-To Field Guide for the Modern Stepfamily” by Scott and Vanessa Martindale


  • Foluke Pope

    Foluke and her husband, Chris, live in Gardena, California with their blended family of five children, 4 boys and 1 girl. She is currently the Saddleback Parents Lead at our South Bay Campus. She joined Saddleback in 2012 as a divorced single mom. After trying several churches, Saddleback got her then 4-year-old son’s thumbs up. She is a serial volunteer with her start at the Resource Table for the Saddleback Huntington Beach Campus. She later transferred to the Welcome Committee at the launch of the Saddleback South Bay Campus. Foluke has used her SHAPE for the past 20 years in the industrial safety profession as a Sales Representative and Sales Manager. She is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a BA in American Literature. She received her Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

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