As I have done countless times before, I remain motionless, peering through the open closet door, staring at all that remains of our children’s childhood. His favorite books and games, her much loved dolls and dress up clothes. Like wisps of mist, memories of him snuggled under the covers with book and flashlight in hand, or her carrying around a baby doll half her size and playing mama come to mind.
Seeing the box of miscellaneous photos that never made their way into an album, I pull it out and sit on the floor. Each picture holds a memory that brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. I pour over the contents of the entire box, setting a few aside to look at later.
Why is it so hard to let go? Every part of who I am, I poured into them. I hoped and prayed that they would grow into loving, healthy, responsible adults. When they leave the nest to live the life God has for them, I cannot help but long for things to be as they were. Them needing me, confiding in me, and loving me.
Eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, scraped knees and stitches. Girlfriend or boyfriend issues, tears of sorrow and of joy, lying in bed listening to their hopes and dreams of the future. So much life shared; so much enjoyed.
“Children are a gift of the Lord.” Psalm 127. The Hebrew meaning for the word “gift” here is “A possession granted by Jehovah.” They were ours for so many years that it seems strange to know that it is no longer the case. They have both left us now and have cleaved to their spouses as God intended, but I have struggled with feeling blue and wondering what my purpose is now.
“O’ Lord my God, help me!” I cry. Then His still small voice, directs me to two verses in Jeremiah 31.
This is what the LORD says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD. “They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the LORD. “Your children will return to their own land.”
Tears of happiness spring forth from my soul as I revel in what my Father is sharing with me. He has been where I am. As a parent Himself, He has known the love, wonder, joy, and heartache that parents embrace when raising children. He understands my longings, but in His wisdom and unfailing love, He is showing me that as the natural order of things takes place in life, I am and will always be their mom. Just as I called out to Him for help, they too will look to their parents in those areas where they need outside wisdom.
In fact, during the writing of this, our daughter phoned us for prayer. She was pulling a double shift at work and was weary and needed strength and refreshing, so she turned to us for help. We prayed with her over the phone, encouraged her, and then sent her back out into life, our thoughts precious toward her, just as Our Father’s thoughts are toward us.
I know that I will still struggle with my empty nest, but I also know that from here out, I will take pleasure in knowing that I am not alone in my struggle and there is One I can count on to have the answer that will help me out of my despair, One whose promises are good and true. Our Almighty, Eternal, Faithful Father.