The empty nest can be cruel. Here you are rolling along in your state of empty nest blessed – reveling in a house that stays clean, the freedom to set your own schedule and allowing yourself time to focus on some of the areas of life you set aside during the child-rearing years. (Getting to that point is definitely a process, but once you’re there, you know it!) Then what happens? Those precious kids show up for an extended holiday visit, and they make you fall in love with them – the new and grown up them – all over again.
We’ve loved watching our children grow and mature after leaving the nest. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to watch. There are times we’ve watched them make decisions that (we can clearly see) will have painful consequences. But sometimes, their wisdom and abilities have joyfully surprised us. We’ve come to value those moments when we’ve seen the character we worked so hard to impart in their lives come to fruition. Has that happened to you too? It’s a high-five moment, for sure!
Prayer was an important part of our kids’ upbringing. We prayed for them and with them about virtually every area of their lives. Faith has always been a fundamental part of our family identity, and we have no greater joy than to see that our children are walking in their faith as young adults (3 John 1:4). In the early months of adjusting to the empty nest, I asked a friend who was a year or two ahead of me in her empty nester experience for some advice. She told me that since her kids had left, her weapon of choice in their lives had become prayer. (BTW, that was not what I was expecting her to say!) What she meant was that in the absence of her physical presence with her children (and thus the reduced ability to counsel and guide them), she had fully committed herself to supporting them through the power of prayer. (Ephesians 6:18)
I’ve embraced that, and recommit myself anew to it every time they leave the nest again. So today, as a part of my heart drove away, I rededicated myself to praying for each of my children. What am I praying about for them? Their emotional struggles, their career choices, their significant relationships, and their faith. Stormie Omartian’s book, The Power of Praying for your Adult Children, has been a vital resource to me on this journey.
If a part of your heart is driving away again soon, know that I understand how you feel. I’ve listed resources that have been helpful to me on this (sometimes cruel) empty nest journey at the top of my website. (You guessed it, under the tab that says “Resources!”) I’ve got resources for you if you are a new empty nester or even a long-time empty nester adjusting to things like one of your children getting married or living far away. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve shared some resources that were helpful to me as I struggled with a lot of anxiety and fear even as a not-yet empty nester seeing the empty nest approaching in the distance. (When I speak to groups about the empty nest, I realize that I was not alone in feeling like that. It is, sadly, a surprisingly common experience.)
Blessings and hugs to each of you as you adjust (again) to the empty nest. We’re in it together, friends.