I’m dressed for church, ready to put on my makeup, and the tears begin to fall. The melancholy typically arrives on the last day of their visits.
“Are you sad, mom?” Moriah says. “Yea, I don’t think I can go to church today. I’ll just cry. But it’s okay because sometimes a good cry is what you need,” I quip. She pulls me tight in a fierce hug, “I’m sorry we have to leave, Bookah. I love you so much.”
I pull on a pair of comfy sweats and text my hubby that I won’t be at church today. I rarely miss services. He’s exceedingly supportive, and I head to the kitchen.
Caleb packs up his fancy espresso machine and Keenan pulls me into a bear hug. Honestly, he’s the world’s best hugger. His embrace can cure any pain. Shelly grins knowingly and says, “Please, call anytime.”
I yell out at the door as Caleb loads the last item in his car, “Buddy, you forgot your coat.” He pounces up the stairs, his lean frame agile in the freshly fallen snow. He pulls me close one last time. “Don’t cry all over the Christmas ornaments (I’m packing up Christmas decor today). I love you so much, Mom,” he whispers.
Our five grown children live hundreds of miles away, as our nest has been empty since 2019. When the kids were young, we never thought much about what our lives would look like once they were grown. We never imagined the physical distance would mean we’d all only be together two to three times a year.
Life changes, and it can feel unsettling when our nest empties. We realize our purpose has shifted from active parenting to supportive roles. It’s normal to feel a little wobbly as we wonder, “What do we do now?” What do our lives look like when we’re not focused on raising children?
We’re not left to flounder on our own as we figure it out. No, we serve a God who willingly guides our days. “God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”- Deuteronomy 31:8.
God has always been in the business of leading His children. He led the Israelites, and He will lead us.
God is with us in this transition. He goes before us. He hedges us in on all sides. He calms our fears. We don’t have to be afraid. He reveals His will as we seek Him. God will present His fresh purpose for this season.
Finding Purpose When Life Changes
Acknowledge the grief of transition.
It’s normal to feel uneasy, but the worst thing you can do is deny the melancholy of releasing your children. This is a major life transition, so be tender with one another. Grief is not only for moms. Dads experience it, too. Couples do well when they talk about their grief. Process it with each other and God. Grief is something you walk through; you don’t have to get stuck there. If you feel overwhelmed by grief, seek professional help.
Find new rhythms together.
Now that you can focus on each other, it’s time to find fresh routines that include each other. You must intentionally pursue one another. Fill the time you spent with the kids with each other.
Where are your connection points in your day? Can you share coffee and conversation in the morning? Have you prayed together? Is it a walk together? Is there a debrief at the end of the workday? Can you cook dinner together? Can you sit by each other on the couch and read?
Ask God for direction.
There’s power in praying as a couple. It’s the deepest form of intimacy, as you bow before God together to seek His will for the empty nest years. God’s not done with you yet. He has a fresh purpose and anointing for these fruitful years. You have a lifetime of experience and knowledge. Surely, God will use you both in a meaningful way. When you seek God for how He wants to use you, He will lead you to His good plans for you.
Navigating the empty nest years takes practice. As you handle your emotions well, find new rhythms together, and seek God for direction, you’ll find the fulfillment you’re longing for.