If you are entering the stage of grown children leaving home, or finding yourself an empty nester, or maybe just fighting for a new dream- may you find hope for your heart in these words.
I have noticed that dreams of the heart take more time than the days seem to give. Or dreams are so dear to the heart they are often hard to offer up and make real to the external world. At least that is how it’s been for me. Many things push against deep desires. Fear pushes, lack of clarity pushes, comparison pushes, and yes even avoidance and procrastination push against forward momentum. Yet in all the pushing against, there is much pushing me forward. It is a battle. A battle to do good, a battle for desire, a battle for fulfillment and godly influence. In this world there is always tension, it seems.
Often the call for ease and to quit trying is such a seductive call. It speaks so enticingly in times of difficulty, in times of trying new things, in times of stepping out of the mundane and familiar. Its appeal is in its seeming attractiveness of lack of struggle and staying with the known. Yet, behind its allure and appeal, lies the way of death to truly living.
God is always on the move and as His daughters He desires us to move with Him. He is a God that could do all things on His own, but because He is relational and truly knows what life and learning and living is, He invites us along to participate in what He is doing. But beyond that, He knows who He has created us to be, and continues to nudge us and encourage us and yes even entice us with hope for what the future could be and could bring.
There are seasons to stay where we are, to be rooted and planted, to be established and to build. And then there are seasons to move. When God begins to woo us forward, what used to bring us life where we are, may become frustrating, dull, and lifeless. When we feel these things it’s a good sign that it’s time for a change. That doesn’t always mean quitting a job, or changing churches etc, sometimes it can mean adding something new to the mix. Where one area was the priority for a long time, it’s time for something else to come front and center.
For me, as my children are now grown and have all moved out of the home, I have been navigating the challenges of who I am now and what is my focus. When parenting and the demands of teenagers were front and center for ten years, and all that that season required becomes silent it messes with your emotional equilibrium. Although it brings great freedom it also brings a bit of instability. As a woman, even though our children aren’t our identity (well, they shouldn’t be), the day in and day out demands, joys, noise, conversations, and general activity all of that brings— pulls on who you are, directs much of your life and then before you know it what was at least 70% of your life now becomes maybe 20%. That leaves a whole lot blank space. Now every woman is different and many women have worked full time as they parented, and continue to have a fulfilling career so they might not notice the empty space quite as much—although emotionally I believe all woman are very aware of the loudness an empty home can have.
For women who had the privilege to be hardworking stay at home moms, full focus on the home, and the kids, maybe even homeschooling…well once the nest is fully empty…there is much open space to begin to dream new dreams, to begin to seek who am I now, and what would God have for me these next 20 years.
There is a time of letting go of what’s been, even some grieving mixed in. How can you not grieve when the greatest parts of your heart walk out the door? Yes, that’s dramatic, but it is dramatic. When you have been a part of your children’s everyday life- from the moment they burst on the scene (which is quite dramatic in and of itself), seeing their first steps, hearing their first words, celebrating their victories, crying with their hardship; it’s hard when life moves to seeing much of that from afar.
Now it’s a planned coffee, or family dinner, a phone call here and there, Facetime, and looking on their Instagram or Facebook for a glimpse of what they are up to…moments you are not directly a part of anymore. Yes, its normal, yes its good. But, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or that our hearts don’t long for more.
I remember when my youngest was about to graduate from high school, and I was taking some moments with my heart (which is wise to do)-and with the bittersweet mixture of joy for him and his excitement and his readiness to move on, was the sadness and reality that…this is it, he is the last, my job is done.
I, too, was ready to be done with the stresses of high school and many of the other things those years bring, but I was not ready to be done with the daily coming in and out boy noise and loud friends, and surprise food raids in the kitchen. So with all the mixture…I had such a sense of sadness and felt like I was losing my family.
It had slowly been happening as my daughter, the oldest, got married at 19, my middle son, got married at 21, and now my youngest was moving on. I remember as I sat there facing the new reality of what my life would begin to look like now, the Lord very clearly said to me, “You are not losing them you are launching them.” Amazing how those words shifted my heart and perspective. God is so good in those moments to know just what to say and how to minister to the deep places of our hearts…if we will let Him.
And in truth as we launch our children into the world, we are now being launched into some new things too. It may take some time to get our equilibrium back. And that’s okay. It’s a time to give ourselves great grace. It’s very emotional, and emotions are not a bad thing. It’s what gives life all its feelings—its substance. They are a gift—the good and the bad. Imagine if we had no emotions, it would be like looking at the world with no color. Just a bunch of gray.
So take heart, if you find that you may be in a similar place as me. All of your children have moved on and you are still finding your footing. Or maybe your firstborn is a senior and it’s the first of your letting go, the first of the launching. Or maybe, you are just in a season that God is calling you out of your comfort zone and it is time to reach for more. Regardless of where you are in the process of change, there is hope. God has more for you and He has more for me. As He filled our hands with the goodness of children, He will fill our hands with goodness for this season.
Look to Him to give you new desires and new delights. At this stage of life, we can be very useful for the kingdom. We have more of ourselves to offer. Don’t be surprised if some dormant dreams begin to surface and whispers of your heart that have been quieted for years because it wasn’t the right time, begin to raise their voices and shout, “It’s time. Look at me, pursue me!”
These years can be some of the greatest years of our lives if we open up to new things, push back against the voices that want to cause us to settle, or be discouraged.
It’s a time to be refreshed and refueled. Embrace a time to be a little selfish (it can feel that way although it’s not) – take care of yourself. It’s a time you can actually think of yourself first, consider what you want, what you would enjoy. And in all that considering and receiving of fresh, life giving things; God restores our soul, feeds us in green pastures, and MAKES us lie down.
Because God knows…WE NEED IT. We have worked hard, made mistakes, had victories, and quite frankly are exhausted and worn out.
Allow time for you: for WHAT and WHO you enjoy. Don’t just keep pushing yourself. Don’t keep saying yes to what you have always said yes to. STOP. PAUSE. Give yourself a chance to consider what you need now. And then find a way to get those needs met in good and godly ways.
We don’t need any more of our precious women crashing and burning, being taken out by life.
Let’s strive to receive, rest (it takes work to rest –lol) and be all that we need to be in the season we are in. May God give each of us the grace to let go, the grace to rest, the grace to grow, and the grace to move forward. Rest my dear sisters, find ways to play. Allow joy and sunshine to be reworked into your life in new and fresh ways.
May you find new hope in the midst of changing seasons.
Scriptures to meditate on:
Dreams: Ps 37:4, Pr 13:12, Ps 121:1-3, Gen 1:28, Eccl 5:20, Gal 6:9, 2 Tim 1:7
Seasons: Eccl 3:1, 11,
Rest: Psalms 23: 2, 3, Heb 4: 1, 2, 9-11