by Wendy Fotopoulos
After 21 years of active duty mom-ing, in three months, when my younger daughter heads to college, I will move to reserve duty.
I’ve spent years training, moving up the ranks. I’ve surveilled, gathered foreign intelligence, and seen my fair share of action. I’ve won and lost battles. I’ve made plenty of strategic and tactical mistakes – ask my girls, they WILL tell you. Much of my time has been invested in warring against the enemies: sins (mine and theirs) of worldliness, idolatry, comparison, and ease.
I wonder about this so-called “empty nest” on my horizon. Empty. Nest. I understand the nest part. For over two decades I’ve built my nest twig-by-twig with lessons and principles, and, on my best days, added feathers of encouraging words and gentle touches for warmth and comfort. My nest is not perfect. It’s well-worn, but strong.
Empty? It doesn’t feel empty. There are memories in every nook and hopes in every cranny. So many prayers offered and answered in God’s perfect timing. Long days and short years. Fresh mercies and manna for each step of the journey. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the Lord is sovereign, faithful, and worthy of all glory, honor, and praise.
So, what’s next for me? I know I will eagerly answer each call and text from my girls; like all their social media posts (but almost never comment); cherish every visit; replay each conversation; savor dreams and confidences shared; and, most of all, continue to pray. But what else? The Apostle Paul explains that there is an ordained time and place for each one of us:
And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… (Acts 17: 26-27).
Having sought and found Him, I’ve given much thought lately to these verses. What is there for me to do now and here? Who around me is seeking Him for the first time? Who is groping to find Him at work in the midst of her own mess?
Going forward, I anticipate having a less cluttered house, calendar, and mind. I also expect to be surprised – even by myself! At my life-stage, women are often equipped but not called upon. We may not have the physical stamina, technological savvy, or fashion sense that we once did, but we stand armed with the compassion, humility, and wisdom that come from decades of groping in uncertainty and battling alongside the Lord.
Knowing that God wastes nothing, I’ve been asking Him to show me if there are others He’s put in my path who could be counted as “my girls.” Not because I’m awesome, but because He is! If you’re in my position, would you join me in that prayer? If you’re farther along, would you show me the way? If you’re some steps back, I urge you to reach out to someone who has been where you are. I bet she would be delighted to share her time and perspective.
Lord, let not my empty nest amount to nothing.
Make time to listen. Listen to your adult child. Listen to your spouse. Listen to yourself.