The winds of change are beginning to blow at my house. More than a little breeze is picking up as we head into a summer filled with exciting, vibrant, noisy, and life-affirming changes that are coming up fast. A wedding for my oldest son. A possible move to Los Angeles for my daughter. And a summer at home for my youngest who is finishing his first year of college. Yes, it will be a wild, loud, activity-filled time around here until September. And then, in one huge gust, everything changes for me.
After the wedding, after the move, and after college resumes in the fall, for the first time in 29 years of mothering, my house will be empty and quiet. All the chicks launched from the nest. And I’m feeling a little bit nervous about that. I never expected to use the words “empty nester” and “single” together when describing this time of my life. Facing the empty nest alone is not the future I saw for myself. But here it comes!
When the gusty winds of change blow through life, it’s time to remember what past storms have left behind.
So how will I handle things when silence and solitude become more than spiritual practices I try to schedule (usually unsuccessfully!) into my week? When these become my steady and constant companions? When the volume level suddenly goes down to a whisper? Will I feel lonely? Bored? Directionless? I think I might. Unless I remember the things I’ve learned and the unexpected blessings I’ve found at other times when everything changed.
When I went from single young professional to married young wife, I learned how to cook, how to run a household (tiny though it was), and how to share space with another human being 24 hours a day. And I experienced the blessing of living inside the loving embrace of marriage.
When we moved across the country from Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida I learned to live far away from my family and how to survive tropical storms and hurricanes. Jewish friends embraced and blessed me with their stories and traditions that would later enrich my Christian faith.
When my babies arrived, it was the beginning of the noisiest, busiest time of my life as I invested the energy, time, and attention raising children requires. What I learned from them would fill volumes. But the blessing I treasure most is simply having a front row seat to watch them become the incredible people God designed them to be.
When my marriage ended, I didn’t think the noise would ever stop. But when the crying ended, I learned how to be me without a partner. And how to handle life’s responsibilities on my own. The blessing has been learning that I am strong and brave – a survivor who is finding joy and peace in a new life where I am free to travel and study and write and serve.
Each of these changes, and dozens more, have seemed to come with the feeling that life was ramping up. There was usually some new skill to master or knowledge to gain to successfully navigate the new course. But the changes that are coming for me this time are different. These changes will bring not more activity, but less. Not more noise, but a steady peaceful quiet, broken only when I choose to break it. No more people to share space with. Just me and my two dogs and a cat that I have somehow inherited in all of my daughter’s moves.
I’ve been praying about this coming change and racking my brain to find ideas for what to do to prepare. And the only thing I keep coming up with is this: “Be still and know….” I think I hear God telling me to let go of all my planning and preparing. To take some time for celebration and reflection. To rest from ramping up, and know that this season of life will unfold as He sees fit, even if I’m not quite ready for it.
God is with me. Life will change, as it always does. But the plans He has for me have never changed.
I expect that when the volume goes down in my life, the sound I will hear will be the same that has carried me this far: God singing over me as He sings over you. (Zeph. 3:17)
Perhaps you’re also in a season of change. Whether it’s a season that brings more activity and increased noise, requiring more of your energy and attention; or it’s a season like mine that promises to bring time for some silence and solitude, let’s agree together to keep listening for that song. And let’s hold on to the promise that through both times of difficulty and times of joy there are more blessings coming. Loudly and softly – even when everything changes.