The Empty Next
Posted On June 29, 2017
My daughters were recently on a mission trip in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I was so proud of them. My husband and I prayed they would experience spiritual growth and that God would break their hearts for what breaks His.
They were gone, in another country, without me. The house was quiet, and the days were long. I missed them terribly. And it didn’t help when my husband kept talking about the fact that our kids we be gone in three short years.
My husband and I are approaching the “empty nest.” As I was typing, I accidentally wrote, the “empty next.” As I looked at the words in front of me, I realized, this was exactly how I felt about it.
Three more years and both girls are off to college. At which time, I will have been a stay-at-home mom for twenty years. Twenty years is almost half my life. I hardly remember who I was prior to having kids.
I love being “mom” to my girls. It’s been a joy and I don’t want to give it up—not that I have a choice.
How do I create a whole new person with a whole new life, practically overnight? And what if I don’t want to?
I was getting a taste of life without them, and I didn’t like it. There are seasons, I know. It’s just more comfortable being in the middle of one, than at the end. It’s hard to say goodbye.
My book, Pouring In, comes out toward the end of the year. This project has been a blessing to me. And I know God is laying the foundation for my next ministry. However, for me, nothing compares to my role as mom.
After a few days of the kids being gone and feeling sorry for myself, God brought to mind the scripture where the Lord called Abraham to go to another land.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1
He had to leave everything behind, everything that was familiar and comfortable. And Abraham didn’t know where God was sending him.
The thought occurred to me, am I willing to do the same?
After contemplating what God asked of Abraham, two words came to mind; joyful and expectant.
God is calling me to be joyful and expectant about the good things that are waiting for me around the corner. But, I have to be willing to turn the corner, and leave the street I love and am so familiar with.
The next season of my life will be just as good as this one. Of course, I can’t imagine it. Nothing could be better than this. Even though it hasn’t been easy, and we have had many ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade these last seventeen years for anything.
So, while my girls were mixing concrete, building walls, playing with Honduran kids, and drawing closer to God as they served a thousand miles away, I decided to be joyful and expectant of what God was doing in their lives, and mine.
Even though I couldn’t be with Emily and Jessica for those ten days, He never left their side. He is a good, good, Father.
They are now back safe and sound, and life is good again. As I cherish the next three years with my girls, I will also be joyful and expectant about what God has for me in the next season of my life.
My girls don’t belong to me, they belong to God. How easily I forget. I only get them for a time. A precious season. And I thank God for every moment I have with them.
Our job is to teach them how to follow their true Father, their true Master. Then we let go because we have returned them to their rightful Owner. —Francis Chan, You and Me, Forever