About three years ago I participated in a women’s Bible study that changed my life. The focus of the study was Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Studying this verse taught me how to take control of what enters my mind, or “to take every thought captive” as the Bible instructs in 2 Corinthians 10:5. But there was that one morning when I watched our middle child pull out of our driveway to leave for her fall semester at college in which it was such a struggle to put into action what I had been taught. It was early enough in the morning to warrant me heading back to bed, but as my head hit the pillow, the enemy assailed me with his lies:
This was her last summer living at home.
You don’t know when you will see her again.
She is driving by herself, so something could happen.
You will never forgive yourself for not going with her if anything happens.
I was tempted to listen to those lies. They were so convincing.
But I knew it was a time like this that I needed to focus on whatever is true.
We had a wonderful summer with our daughter.
God has a plan and a purpose for our daughter’s life.
God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.
Within ten minutes, I was resting in His peace and fell fast asleep even in this season of transition. When our children grow up and leave the nest, there is often a void left by their absence. It’s a wide open place for the enemy to camp out in our thought life.
What is our role now? What is our purpose?
Motherhood demands that we place our wants and needs on the back burner for the benefit of our family. It also requires us to give up on some of our own dreams and desires. For me, that looked like giving up my career to stay home and raise our children. When our children left for college, I was once again unemployed. I questioned my purpose. I wondered what I would do to fill my days in the absence of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring duties. My calendar was suddenly void of practices, due dates, dentist appointments, doctor visits, games, and play dates.
We have to embrace our empty nest with the promise that God also has a plan for us in this season of my life.
His plan was not for me to hold on to my children in an unhealthy way to or make idols out of them. As a matter of fact, the day before my daughter left, my devotional reading was all about making idols of our children. I do not believe that was by accident. This devotion instructed that anything we place first in our heart can become an idol. I had to seriously examine my relationships and take a close assessment of where my heart was in relation to the people I loved and God. Some people had indeed become idols in different seasons of my life, and I was dangerously close to making that mistake again with my daughter.
Our children are on loan to us for a short time. They were not meant to live with us forever.
Some of our children are not even meant to live in the same state that we do. Today, I see so many parents who will not let go of their adult children. They are still involved in their children’s lives to the extent that the adult child might as well still live at home with them. As a result, we are raising a generation of children who are anxious and fearful and cannot navigate difficulties for themselves. We have done them a disservice by what we deem is loving them but what truly is suffocating them. They have to grow up. They have to move away from us – even if it is only down the street.
God has a plan and a purpose for every season of your life as well as your child’s.
Focus on that truth as you navigate through empty rooms and schedules, and you will quickly discover that you still have a lot of living to do that does not include diapers, soccer games, and proms.