hungry baby birds

What? An Empty Nest?

I have always looked forward to the idea of an empty nest. As a brand new mother at the age of 21, I remember an older friend telling me that I would have so much time to enjoy myself and my husband, and we would enjoy many years alone together because we had started our family early. I banked on that idea and got excited thinking about all the trips we’d take and the hobbies we’d work on and even fantasized about our log home in the woods we would retreat to whenever we wanted. But life has a funny way of not turning out the way we expect and here I am at almost 60, with a husband that is working harder than ever, adult children and grandchildren that need my help, an elderly parent that needs care and sadly, no travel plans in sight.

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation, longing for down time but no end to the responsibilities on your to-do list . When surveying a random group of friends and strangers, I found that most of us have something standing in the way of having a truly empty nest. For some it is the adult child at home, for others it is a financial setback that means retirement is not “right around the corner.” Some of us are caring for an elderly parent or 2 or four, and some may have a child with a disability that will never leave home. Some find their empty nest achingly lonely following a divorce or unexpected death of a spouse And others are dealing with a health crisis that is standing in the way of truly enjoying life.

So how does this make you feel? Disappointed? Resentful? Sad? Fearful? How does your reality match up to your expectations for this time in your life? What one thing needs to change in order for you to feel joyful, purposeful, and satisfied? That’s a really tough question but one that needs to be answered in order to move forward. And friends, I believe the answer is our mindset. The fact is, it is not the situation we find ourselves in that is causing the problem, it is how we are looking at the situation, what we believe about ourselves and those around us in perspective to the situation, that is causing the tension. And most important in my book, is how God wants us to look at the situation. Nothing is out of his control! He has always known we would find ourselves here and He has equipped us to take care of whatever challenge is facing us. And He has given us a guidebook to answer our questions along the way, His Word.

Our help for the journey is what Jesus calls the greatest two commandments. “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 Loving God, Loving Others, Loving Self – those are our marching orders. In fact, they form an acronym – JOY – Jesus, Others You! Are you with me? Are you ready to explore what this means in perspective to the situation that you currently find yourself?

Let’s explore JOY and Order in our “not so empty nests.”

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