Well, the day finally came. Helene and I are now officially “empty nesters.” Our youngest graduated from college and has packed up and moved to another state. She isn’t coming back at the end of the semester like every time before. This time, she packed up her room. Posters gone, clothes gone, mementos gone, 6 bags of trash were added to our garbage can!
I’m not sure how I feel about all that yet. Part of me is saddened to see my little girl grow up and move away. Part of me is happy that she is moving into the next stage of her life in a positive manner. Part of me wonders if I have given her all she needs to be successful on her own. Have I taught her to be self-sufficient, confident, faithful to God? Part of me is excited for OUR next chapter in life. What will we do with her room? Well never mind, Helene already has that figured out.
Isn’t that what life is all about; various stages of endings and beginnings? Her life as our child has changed dramatically. She is still our child and always will be, but she is now her own adult. We will always be there for her, but she is expected to deal with life and all it’s ups and downs and begin to figure it out on her own. We are now the support team, not the managers of her life.
My mom shared a verse that was deeply meaningful to her after we kids packed up and moved away. 3 John 4 (ESV) — 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. For her, knowing we were walking in the truth gave her a peace that she and dad had prepared us right. As a parent of grown kids, I understand her thought on that passage even better now.
I think there are some spiritual applications we can make from this. As a church we are parents to the members who attend with us. We train them, teach them, shape them to be the best Christians possible. Some of them will move away and start life in a new location. Have we prepared them to be successful Christians wherever they go? It may sadden us to see them leave, but if they are faithful confident Christians wherever they go, then we can know we did our job with them. How does our church function without them? Who will step up and take on their roles and responsibilities? Who will be the next generation of Christians to shape and nurture?
The one glaring thing that is different between our kids moving out and our members moving away is that we had better never become spiritual “empty nesters.” There are too many empty church buildings all ready! I love and miss those who have moved on from our congregation and like John and my mother, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.