When I first wrote the post about taking our last daughter off to college and us becoming Empty Nesters, it had just happened. I was right in the thick of it all at the time, climbing my way up the tree and flinging myself over the edge of the nest. I was weepy, happy, excited, sad, melancholy and apprehensive. Those emotions could come and go at a moment’s notice.
I’ll never forget going to church the first time after Alli was gone. I was alone in the pew. My husband was preaching and my girls were gone. It felt very empty…until the time of greeting one another. A little girl came over to me, one of my “little friends.” She wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed me so hard. The Lord knew I needed that, and it was at that moment that He spoke to my heart and answered the question that I’d been asking Him since we’d dropped Alli off at school,
“What Now, Lord?”
The answer He spoke to my heart was to minister to younger women and girls. I knew He wanted me to pour my life into others. So I began, I believe even that week. I asked the mom of that little girl if she could come over and bake cookies with me at my home. She did – several times. I also had other children over to bake, read, and just hang out with me. Then I began with women as well, getting together to have coffee and pray, mentoring younger women using good books as our guide. The Lord just opened up so many doors and opportunities. I think I’ve stayed busier during these years than I did when my girls were home!
God answered my prayers, giving me a way to invest my life for eternity, and I love it! So, now on the other side of the Empty Nest, I can look back and remember how I got here. Let me share some practical things for you to do so you can not only survive, but thrive when you are an Empty Nester.
- To stay in touch with your child, but not to smother them, send them a text each morning. Send a verse you’re praying for them, or an encouragement for their day.
- Do something fun with your spouse, like getting away for a couple days, at the very beginning of the time your child leaves. It will make the break easier to deal with if you’re not staring at their empty bedroom.
- Make time with your husband intentional. Do things together and enjoy the freedom you now possess! Just going out during the day when my husband made visits was special to me, because I’d home schooled for 20 years, and couldn’t do that very often. Now I had the chance to join him, and it was great! Maybe for you it will mean getting to run to Sonic after prayer meeting or doing your grocery shopping together. These years should knit your hearts together like your early days of marriage! I like the suggestion of one reader to attend a Couples’ Retreat. The Wilds or other similar Christian camps provide a beautiful setting, fun times and spiritual encouragement for your marriage.
- Think on what is true – Phil. 4:8 – The Lord intended for children to grow up and leave home. This is the right thing. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in sadness. This is a new season, and one to be enjoyed.
- Ask the Lord to give you a new ministry; something that will count for eternity. You now have extra time on your hands; use it wisely. Is there a child at church you could pour your life into? Does a young mom need encouragement? Who needs the Gospel that you could do a Bible Study with so that you might share the Good News? Is there a ministry at church you now have time for?
- Relish the time to dig deep into God’s Word. If you are able to stay home during the Empty Nest Years, as I have, you’ll enjoy extra time to do Bible studies, pray and work on Scripture memory. Determine to make this a spiritually rich season of your life. You’ll have plenty stored in your heart for the times when you may be tempted to be down or sad about your children being gone. Let your Heavenly Father teach you and draw you nearer to His heart.
We missed our girls, but we did indeed have so much fun when the Empty Nest happened that I believe Alli got a little offended! That’s not really a bad thing. Our lives need to be focused first on the Lord, next on our mate, THEN on our children.
To you young moms, keep your husband first right now, so when your children fly from the nest, you won’t be strangers with that man sitting across the table from you at dinner. It will happen sooner than you think! And when it does happen, you two will be so in love, there will be a twinkle in your eye just behind those tears! Don’t just survive, thrive!
From my empty, but contented nest,