If you’re anything like me, you’re still trying to fill the void left by your children leaving the nest. I’ll be honest, sometimes the days seems so dark that busyness in something…anything…is the only means to keep me focused. But sweet reader, please listen carefully. We can very quickly fill our nest with the wrong things that bring no honor to us, our family, and most importantly, God.
MAKE THIS A POST-IT NOTE: When you fill your empty nest with toxic people or toxic choices, the result is a rotten shell that doesn’t come close to resembling the nest you worked so hard to build over the years.
Be rest assured, if you fill it up with the wrong things, your little birds will sense that troubling nest whenever they fly home to roost for a while. Yes, they’ll be the first to notice that something isn’t quite right. An emotionally wrecked nest is the last thing I want my children to see, especially when my time with them is so limited. So how do we cope in this new stage of life?
Any of these sound familiar? 1. Shopping from boredom, ‘till you and your wallet both drop. (Just the tiniest adrenaline rush makes you feel you've accomplished something.)
2. Working out at the gym to the point of being too thin. (If our heart races, at least we feel alive...)
3. Wasting valuable time meddling in other people’s concerns. ( It keeps us from focusing on getting our own “stuff” together).
4. Abusing alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of loneliness.
5. Deciding to become a hermit in our own homes because we can’t bring ourselves to face our new reality. (PJ's and the sofa become an all day ritual.)
6. Deciding to master a variety of crafts better than Martha Stewart. (it drains our wallet and makes us crazy when nothing looks like the magazine photos. The material start piling up and you suddenly feel like a failure once again)
I’m sure you can add to the list, but sweet readers, none of these things are good for us.
I've talked with hundreds of women who have just hit middle age, experienced the empty-nest or are fearfully preparing for both. They all share one common feeling: I JUST WANT TO FEEL NEEDED. SOMEHOW. SOMEWAY.
But this specific need can get us into a whole lotta trouble, girlfriends. If we seek to feel needed by lining our lonely nests with unhealthy relationships or habits, there's a good chance we'll end up right back where we started, feeling broken, alone and unfulfilled. Whether it’s due to an untimely retirement, a disability we didn’t ask for, or a sense of loneliness that leaves us aching for more, our desperate feelings can make us feel as if we're going crazy. Yes, it just might seem this new phase of life has gone off the rails.
My friends, that’s when we should reach out and feel Jesus so very close. I mean, He’s RIGHT THERE. But it is a choice. He always gives us a choice. Hallelujah, He is always ready to run to us at breakneck speed, hold us in his arms, and reassure us that we are never alone. Regardless of where we are-- bruised, battered, heart broken, stripped bare and raw--He takes us back.
But what if don't feel Jesus close? What then? Pray and then seek out your tribe--your female friends that've already been through this stage of life and have encouraging words of wisdom. But make sure to also seek others who can relate and who are right down in the trenches with you. Perhaps you both can try and hold one another accountable. Of course, it's even more fabulous if your tribe is a combination of both. There's great value in having friends who can say "been there, done that and here's why you should avoid it." God places those people in our lives for a reason. If you don't feel like seeking out new friends, perhaps your first step is to see a counselor or pastor that understands. He or she should have counseling experience and exhibit genuine care for what you're going through. Sometimes it takes several attempts to find the right person, but don't give up! Pray to be lead to the right person.
Of course, God also provides us clear direction through His Holy Word. Keep it close by you and ask aloud for His guidance. When I am overwhelmed with shame or grief, I find myself turning to Romans in the New Testament. These worn out pages of Paul's words are filled with notes, exclamation points, and way too many mascara tears. But more than anything, by rereading His word, I'm learning to feel empowered and accepted by Him. Hallelujah, the book of Romans reminds me of whose daughter I really am.
There is so much to celebrate in that glorious fact! I don't know about you, but I'm ready to see change as a good thing. Let's create a nest for OURSELVES that is built on courage, joy, freedom and peace. And by all means, make sure the foundation of this new nest is fully lined with Jesus's unconditional love. After all, It's been there all along. You may have to cave in and purchase a new pair of readers to see it, ( I finally admitted I needed glasses and bought some funky ones!), but I promise He will reveal himself to you in one way or another.
Now, go fly into the new phase and know I'm right there with you. We may wobble a bit and get slightly confused, but have faith and be patient. Look out everyone-- we are about to SOAR!
Finding Blessings in Him,