The Not-So-Empty Nest
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6 (MSG): “There’s an opportune time to do things, . . . A right time to hold on and another to let go.”
When my last child left for college, I walked back into the house and sat on my bed in tears while rummaging through childhood photos. For years we strive to get our children to a place of independence. Once the mission’s accomplished, where’s the celebration? I felt sad and adrift.
That year, I just tried to adjust. My friends talked about their newfound freedom to travel and being released from their cooking and cleaning regimens. So why was I so sad?
I sought God for help and guidance, and He showed me just the right verses to move me forward. A passage from Proverbs was particularly meaningful:
“She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:20, 25-26 NASB)
This woman exemplified purpose. God showed me that He uses all we learn while mothering to perfectly train us for the next season. Helping those in need and teaching wisdom is God’s way of giving us spiritual children to nurture and train into His family.
The words that really struck me were “she smiles at the future.” That’s what was lacking. I realized that I could smile at the future when I entrusted it to God.
It has been eight years since my first empty nest day. What I thought was a closed door eventually became an open door again. As soon as I got used to the quiet, I heard little voices running into the house yelling “Nonny!” and I discovered new uses for those familiar skills all over again.
Today I have four grandchildren. And my nest is far from empty.
Maybe that’s why God wants us to “smile at the future.” He is good and He has a plan. He was just giving us a season of rest before the next season began. Right now, that empty nest is full of the future!
Dear Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for each season of life. Teach me to let go of the season that has passed so I can embrace the season to come. Allow me to see each season’s purpose. My life is in Your hands.