7 Powerful Encouragements for the Empty Nester
- Beth Ann Baus Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2019 23 Sep
By this time next year my husband and I will be empty nesters. I’ve always heard that this season of life can leave a woman feeling purposeless and I’m beginning to understand why. With a year to go, I’ve already been asked the following questions:
“What will you do with yourself?”, “What will you do with all your free time?”, “How does it feel not having all your children with you?”, “Isn’t it strange to not be needed anymore?”
With questions like these, it’s no wonder moms are left feeling purposeless.
I admit, there are days when I look forward to the empty nest season and there are days I find myself crying about it. It’s going to be difficult transition!
But what I’m realizing is that I need to be able to answer these questions. I want to be confident in my answers while being both honest and God honoring. If you’re in the same boat, here are some thoughts to consider:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/David Natho
1. The Purpose of Motherhood
The true and ultimate purpose of all people is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever! That means our ultimate purpose as women was never about being a mother.
However, there is a purpose in motherhood! We are to love our children (Titus 2:4). We are to teach our children about the Lord (Deut 6:7). We are to train our children to live godly lives (Ps 78:5-6). We are to help our children reflect the glory of God, as they are His image bearers (Gen 1:26).
All of this is work! Hard work! And because this work is good, it’s only natural that we miss it when our kids move on.
It seems impossible not to find some part of our identity in motherhood, but we have to remember that all along, the goal was for our kids to leave. Genesis gives us a clear picture of Adam and Eve being instructed to multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28), meaning their children had to scatter at some point.
Genesis 2:24 tells us that a man should leave his mother and hold fast to his wife. We must remind ourselves that the goal from day one was to train them to leave us.
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2. Focus on What is Best for Your Children
Perhaps you're scared of sending a child out into the world who doesn’t know the Lord. Maybe you’re fearful that your child won’t stand firm in their convictions and will fall into temptation. Or, if you’re like me, you’re selfish.
I admit it--I want my boys to go out and make their own way in the world, but I’m not ready to let go of what the traditional season of motherhood looks like. So, what do I need to concentrate on instead of myself and what I want?
Philippians 2:3-4 is a good place to start, “Do nothing from selfishness...regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Would it be best for our children to stay at home with us for the rest of their lives? Absolutely not. I need to concentrate on what’s best for them; not what makes me feel most secure and useful.
Philippians 4:8 is also a good reminder of what I should be thinking about rather than my own desires, wants, and perceived needs.
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3. This Is a Wonderful Chance to Connect with God
Moms may spend time in the Word with their children, they may pray with their children, they may spend time alone praying for their children.
But let’s face it, whether our children are babies, toddlers, or teens that we follow from one event to the next, it’s difficult to find time to study the Word, spend quality time in prayer, and concentrate on our own spiritual growth.
If you’re staring your empty nest in the face, see it as a chance to form some new habits!
You have the opportunity to use this season to lean on God in a new way. You have more time to talk to your Father about your fears, your feelings of purposelessness, and the desires you have for your children’s future. Let God comfort you!
Let His Word remind you of His promises, His faithfulness, His love, and grace. Spend time alone in the Word and spend time in the Word with other women! Memorize Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
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4. Use This Time to Focus on Your Marriage
This doesn’t have to mean your marriage isn’t already strong, but isn’t there always room for growth?
I love Proverbs 5:18: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” If you’re like me, my body doesn’t work the way it did in my youth. But my husband still has my heart, and my favorite place to be is where he is.
I realize not everyone can say that. Some women dread being left alone with their husbands because they’ve grown apart during the parenting years. Either way, this is the perfect opportunity to fan the flame or rekindle the original spark that brought the two of you together!
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5. An Empty Nest Gives Us More Opportunities for Ministry and Service
Be the Titus 2 woman we’ve all heard about! Titus 2:3-5 gives us a very clear picture of how to spend our time as seasoned moms: “Older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.”
If you feel inadequate and overwhelmed by this, consider reading Spiritual Motherhood by Susan Hunt. Hunt defines spiritual motherhood as “When a woman of faith and spiritual maturity enters into a relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.”
Doesn't that sound a lot like what we did with our own children? Maybe we’re not as inadequate as we think we are.
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6. Remember that God Provides for Us in Every Season of Life
I don’t have the words to tell you how much Isaiah 46:4 means to me. Let these words sink in: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
What a beautiful promise!
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to be anxious for nothing. Nothing. That means we shouldn’t be dwelling on our fears and apprehensions about sending our children out into the world or about how this change will affect us.
So, what do we do instead of being anxious? Pray. Be thankful. Present your request to God. And then what will happen? “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
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7. Don’t Forget, You’re Still a Mom!
Be excited and accept this new season of life as a challenge as your parenting takes on a new focus. Let’s face it, our kids don’t need us the way they used to, but they still need us.
Maybe you’re a mother who hears from her kids on a regular basis, or maybe you’re a mother whose kids aren’t the best at keeping in touch, either way, they still need you; even if they don’t know it. Encourage them. Celebrate their successes. Mourn their failures. Be available. And most importantly, pray for them.
Asses your week and think about how much time you spent talking about your children to other people; to your husband, your gal pals, the grandparents, co-workers, etc.
Now think about how much time you spent throughout the week talking about your kids to God. If your conversations with God were less than your conversations with others, I would suggest you change that immediately.
Talk to God about your kids, praise Him, thank Him, give Him your petitions and requests. Then trust Him, knowing that He loves your kids more than you do.
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Now, Let’s Readdress Those Original Questions:
“What will you do with yourself?”
Answer: “I’m going to concentrate on my relationship with the Lord and my husband.”
“What will you do with all your free time?”
Answer: “I’m going to make myself available to the women in my church family. I’m going to offer myself as a spiritual mother and, Lord willing, help the younger ladies grow in their faith.”
“How does it feel not having all your children with you?”
Answer: “It feels strange and I confess, sometimes it’s lonely. But, I raised my kids to leave home and I trust God to direct their paths.”
“Isn’t it strange to not be needed anymore?”
Answer: “I’m still needed, just in a different way.”
Unless the Lord returns soon, we aren’t the last group of women to become empty nesters. We should be honest and admit that some days are lonely and that change is hard.
But let’s also lead by example and show those next in line that this new stage of life can be exciting, fulfilling, and God-honoring! Let’s give those next in line something to look forward to, something to aspire to, and something to be thankful for!
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a freelance writer and author of the novel, Sister Sunday. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression, and OCD. Beth has a heart for women’s ministry and is in the process of becoming a certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.
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