The empty nest is a paradox. Thankfully, there’s plenty of Scripture that teaches us paradoxes are part of God’s working order. Inside: Hope for when what you planned for … well, hurts!
I kissed my husband that morning and asked him, “Will you love me through the crazy?” He laughed.
Crazy was no stranger to him. This wasn’t the first set of roller coaster colliding emotions he had witnessed in our three decades of marriage. It wouldn’t be the last.
But something about this version of crazy was different. You see, we were approaching the
… wait for it …
empty nest zone.
The empty nest
A few days later, we waved goodbye to our baby as she turned to go back into her dorm and start a whole new chapter without us. We drove for six hours and returned to a house where supposedly we could now run around in our underwear. (Seriously? Why is that such a thing?)
And just like that.
That season of parenting was finished.
I know I’m not through being a parent.
I know they’ll still need me. My older two have shown me that.
They’ve also shown me how much fun grown and flown children can be.
Yes, this is an exciting season ahead with so many new adventures and opportunities.
I know it’s going to be ok.
In fact, this is how it’s supposed to be.
But on that day when she walked away, I kept asking, “Why does it hurt so much?”
And why wouldn’t the truth in my head win the wrestling match with my heart?
There could have been an Olympic event for all the emotions jockeying for position inside of me.
Paradoxical Dance Partners
My friend wrote a guest post about the experience of letting grown children go. She described the internal pull of emotions in parenting young adults as a dance of two partners: joy and sorrow.
“Make no mistake. It’s a dance. Beautiful or terrible. In sync or out of step.
There are two polar opposite sets of emotions that are trying desperately to reach some kind of peace.
One pulls against the other, creating a swirling activity of emotion and unpredictable responses.
Hopefully they work with — and not against — each other.
If you’re like me, you might not be a great dancer.”
As I stood on that roller coaster dance floor, I was grateful for her wisdom. Yep. I’m not a great dancer either, friend.
Roots and Wings
This entire parenting thing is full of incongruent, conflicting, discordant strains that are supposed to combine in one masterpiece harmony.
- God gave us these people, but they aren’t ours.
- He destined us to receive them with open arms but hold them close with open hands.
- He shaped us to love to be needed and yet commissioned us to train them to need us less and less.
- He wired our impulse to scoop them up when they fell and also instilled the intuition to show them how to stand on their own.
- He instilled a nesting instinct that would culminate in an empty nest.
And so, if we’ve been doing our jobs, we’ve been teaching them how to walk away from us since we taught them to take their first steps.
It’s what we planned for.
I just didn’t realize it would hurt so much.
Roots and wings. What a paradox.
Paradox in Scripture
When I can’t make sense of life, I turn to the one who can. God is the original Author and he has an affinity for the element of irony. The record of Scripture is full of seemingly incompatible themes and paradoxes.
- In weakness, we are strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
- Through humility, we are exalted. (James 4:10)
- In slavery, we gain freedom. (Rom. 6:18)
- To be wise, we must become fools. (1 Cor. 3:18)
- The one who loses his life will find it. (Matt. 10:39)
- The last will be first. (Matt. 20:16)
- The leader must first serve. (Luke 22:26)
- Gain is counted as loss and loss of everything brings the ultimate gain. (Phil. 3:7-8)
- Death of the Eternal One bought eternal life for everyone. (John 3:16)
- God as a baby. (Luke 2:11)
And that’s just the top ten.
The more I contemplate the unfathomable wisdom and providence of our sovereign God, the more I ease into the empty nest season of life. It doesn’t hurt less, but I’ve learned that leaning into the pain is the only way to get to the other side.
So I’ll keep dancing.
I’ll see this coaster to the end of the hill.
I’ll give God my crazy chords to compose a new harmony.
And when we get to the end of this ending, I trust there will be a beginning, with more full than my empty could ever have fathomed.
[button shape=”rounded” size=”large” href=”https://christigee.com/topics/parenting-articles/parenting-teens/” title=”Parenting Teens and Beyond” info_content=”” lightbox_caption=”” id=”” class=”” style=””]Keep Reading: More Posts Like This[/button]
Launching teenagers into young adulthood is not for the faint of heart.
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You’ll be reminded you’re not alone in this stage.
27 responses to “Are you facing the empty nest? 10 Scriptures you need + hope!”
Christi, this resonates with me in a different kind of way, as I sent my kids off for their first day of Christian school after homeschooling them for eight years. And in yet another way, the truths you share here make me think of our journey as a foster family, a calling which – by its very design – is a “love them and let them go” type of endeavor. I think this is a key truth that’s easy for parents to miss: “God gave us these people, but they aren’t ours. He destined us to receive them with open arms but hold them close with open hands.” I’m so thankful for His grace that follows our precious ones as they leave the nest, and for the same grace that stays behind with us. Taking some time now to pray for you, friend. Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!
Thank you for those prayers, friend!
I have been thinking about Hannah ~ who gave up the child God gave to her ~ so young. She immediately launched into a prayer of praise after letting Samuel go. May I follow in her example!
I love this post, and although I am not yet there, it still resonates with this new season of parenting a teenager. As he spreads his wings and acts in independent ways, it is both wonderful and sad. I want to cheer him on, but at the same time hold and snuggle him just like I did when he was a baby. I am so glad I had the chance to stop by here today. You blessed me!
I’d also like to invite you to my Monday link-up, Moments of Hope. It’s just a few months old and one I want to keep a bit smaller to build a community of hope. Posts all offer and point to the hope we find in Christ. Your posts are always beautiful and filled with hope, so I would be honored to have you join in!
Sharing this post for sure because Mamas with aching hearts need encouragement and hope!
Blessings and smiles,
I totally get those thoughts you are describing, friend.
I will definitely consider anything you have arranged. I’m sure the community you are building is a blessing to be a part of. Let me get this baby bird out of the nest and I’ll check in with your space. Thank you for such sweetness and kind words!
Watching them walk away is such a mix of joy and pain, and I too have been on that crazy roller coaster as I said goodbye to my oldest as he moved to China for the next 4 years teach. We raise them in the Lord to be grounded and independent and unafraid, and then when they fill those God-pleasing shoes, it is almost too much to think of letting go. God has awesome plans for our kids, and as we watch the many ways He goes before them, it is such balm to our mama heart! Crystal~
You are so right! We need each other to remind us of this truth. Thank you for taking time to be an encourager!
I learned the phrase “there is always good with the bad” years ago and found it to be true.
I know this is sad, but I know you will enjoy the next adventure :)
Such a good phrase to hold onto! Thanks for being here.
You know I love to spend time here, with your words… walking with you and cheering for you from the sidelines. I have not released a child into the world quite the same way you have and I agree with Michelle, above, that every single experience with our kids is different for each child. Our oldest has had to be released in different ways and with each new turn on the journey, I still feel the same apprehension, like you are sharing, with the ‘what is ahead God’ discussion on the forefront.
And as per His usual answer… trust me… becomes the echo of His grace for me.
Praying for the blessing of His gentle echo in your beautiful crazy!
And you know I always love reading what you have to say. Sometimes I think you write on your own blog just to have a launching pad to go around and encourage others. You have made a ministry out of commenting and inspiring others in their own space. I hold your words in such high regard and thank God for what He does through you.
Thank you for the transparency and sharing about your journey with your children. You are a treasure.
I always read your posts that arrive in my in-box but sometimes I don’t make it to the comment box or see you in the link-up :) I’m not a mom but I can relate to your feelings of change and ends and beginnings and I’ve decided to believe that all endings just make space for something new to arise in its place. So I’m hoping for you a new adventure, new art, new creative — something to make your heart sing that God reveals to you, just as your words echo that sentiment!
Valerie — your blog name is so appropriate. You leave grace that just slides in and smoothes rough places for people. Every time you comment or reply, I’m encouraged. I hope we get to meet one day before heaven is our home. If not, let’s do coffee on God’s porch :)
Beautiful words, Christi. That struggle feels like it’s a long way away for me and yet life is proving to me that time slips by faster than I ever plan for it to. I hope I will remember this wisdom for that moment.
Thanks again for the trail of grace you left in online spaces for me this week.
You are wise to remember it does go by fast, but I try not to say that to another young mom any more unless they say it first :).
I can remember being at your stage of life and wishing for time to myself. Now, I’m about to have more of it than imaginable and all of the sudden, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be!
Christi, I feel your pain! When our first son left the nest it was to a wife and a totally independent life. (Gasp! At 18!) Boy #2 is in college here in the state, so we see him quite often, but not regularly so we’re in an in-between state with him. I think it’s interesting that every single child will leave in a bit of a different way, and so there’s no track record to prepare me for #3 and #4. It does make me thankful for the strong relationships we have with our boys, and I think that’s a good foundation to lay in preparation for the empty nest/transition years no matter how they play out!
Thank you for sharing. The struggle is real!
And you are so right … they each leave in a different way. But they leave. This is one of those situations where we wait for the truth in our head to catch up to our hearts.
So true! And we need grace for it all!
It is a bittersweet time in a parent’s life. I still don’t handle the empty next well, so thank God for grandchildren!
Thanks for the camaraderie!
“Joy and sorrow”, “roots and wings”. Such truth. Thank you for sharing your heart❤️
Love you so!