The transition to motherhood was one of the hardest and most challenging transitions of my life. If you are a mom, you will understand that! Before you have children, you can come and go as you please, sleep as long as you want to, and live life on your own schedule. Then you bring a tiny human home, and your life suddenly revolves around them in every way! It takes a while, but you adjust to the new season, and then it becomes the new normal. Eventually, you can't imagine life without your children. You have become a family. It feels complete.
Then they grow up, go to college, get a job, or get married, and suddenly nothing feels right. You feel disoriented, and your purpose changes. A knot settles into your stomach, evidence that you are experiencing grief despite enjoying your newfound freedom and flexible schedule.
The transition of becoming an empty nest mom was again one of the most challenging transitions of my life. It was as hard as I'd imagined it would be but even harder than I had anticipated. We were a little family unit. It felt complete. Those tiny humans grew into amazing, unique, deeply loved adults that I enjoyed in every way. Then it changed overnight. And for a long time, nothing felt right.
When you see my smiling face, either in person or in a selfie that I might post on social media, you see evidence of God's grace there in that photo! The fact that I am smiling is proof that God walks us through every transition and that He causes us to adjust to the "new normal" of every season. Even in the most difficult changes, He is there to take us by the hand and walk us through them. When we lift our tear-stained faces and ask Him to help us move forward, one day at a time, we wake up one day and find that we have adjusted. The ache of change and loss will accompany us for the rest of our lives - but I really believe that's ok and is even a gift from God because it is what enables us to serve others well. It's what God uses in our lives so that we can truly enter into another person's suffering and empathize with others in their pain.
There is an old hymn entitled "Be Still My Soul." I love this hymn, and the lyrics have encouraged me during some pretty intense seasons of change. If you get a chance, I encourage you to read and listen to all of the lyrics. They are perfect for the soul in transition. Here are just a few lines from this hymn that stand out to me and have comforted me when I am facing changes in my life.
Be still, my soul -- the Lord is on your side. In ev'ry change, he faithful will remain.
Your God will undertake to guide the future as he has the past; your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake.
When dearest friends depart, and all is darkened in the vale of tears, then you will better know his love, his heart, who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Your Jesus can repay from his own fullness all he takes away.
The hour is hast'ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
When change and tears are past, all safe and blessed, we shall meet at last.
Release and Released
We are all working our way through the seasons of life. One at a time. It's a beautiful, amazing, heartbreaking, exhausting journey that requires us to rely deeply on the only One who can enable our soul to be still. In every change, we are asked to release something precious from our tight, white-knuckled grip. It can be painful. But we are also released to move forward into a new and different season. We are released to do something new, grow in a new way, and serve God in a way we may not have been able to in the seasons before. It's ok to grieve the past as long as we embrace what is new.
My husband and I have gone through many changes over the past few years. There has been much we have had to release – a ministry we loved, children who grew up and got married, precious parents who passed away within two years of each other. And then there has been the release of what we imagined our lives might look like when we reached this season, what kind of ministry we might be doing, and aging parents who have given into dementia and the aging process. There has been the release of our strong, younger bodies that have now become achy and that tire more easily – and the wrinkles and lines on our faces. Release, yet released to new ways of living. New ways of serving. New ways of sharing about God's faithfulness. God has been faithful, and we are working hard to embrace the season we are in and do what we have been released to do.
He Is Faithful
Life is good—but life is hard, and God's Word, which is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), promises us that He is faithful in every change.
- Hebrews 10:23 tells us that he who promised is faithful.
- Lamentations tells us that His mercies are new every morning; great is his faithfulness.
- Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to be strong and courageous, that he will never leave you nor forsake you.
- Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Lamentations 3:21-23 tells us that because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is his faithfulness.
- Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us not to remember the former things nor consider the things of old. He is doing a new thing, and He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
- Philippians 4:13 says that we can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Holding fast to God and His promises that He is faithful enables us to move forward into the next season of life, even though change can be unsettling. It's what allows us to release our loves and comforts so that we can be released for what is next for us in God's plan. It's what gives us the bigger perspective of God's promises for eternity and what lies there for us when we are faithful to obey him and follow him even when it is the hardest. We need Him and His strength to enable us to persevere to the end so that we will experience all that He has promised to those who are faithful and trust Him with their lives.
Be encouraged. The Lord is on your side. In ev'ry change, he faithful will remain. Your God will undertake to guide the future as he has the past; your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake. The hour is hast'ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. When change and tears are past, all safe and blessed, we shall meet at last.
Be still my soul.
Gina Smith is a writer and author. She has been married for 34 years to Brian, a college professor, and athletic trainer. For 25+ years she and her husband served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents, where Brian was a professor and dean of students. They reside right outside of Washington DC and are the parents of two grown children, one daughter-in-law, and one son-in-law. She recently authored her first traditionally published book Everyday Prayers for Joy, available everywhere books are sold. You can find Gina at the following: Website:ginalsmith.com, Instagram, Facebook, and at Million Praying Moms, where he is the prayer mentor and mentor mom. Gina also runs a prayer community of over 3.0K members. You can join her at the Million Praying Moms Prayer Community.