When our younger daughter went to college we thought that we would have it made but we felt a bit of a hole in our lives and though we had been preparing for that moment we still felt at bit out of sorts. We found that we spent more time together trying to figure out how to handle the empty nest. This time proved to be the necessary salve to soothe our souls. This time of oneness in which we literally spent every moment not at work or in a community oriented activity together. We got used to this lifestyle. It was fun to figure out what were we going to do with the rest of our day instead of thinking can we possibly find a way to do something just one thing together. Then it happened the day we had waited 4 and a half years to see. Our older daughter graduated. This was exciting but it also came with some challenges that we did not for see.
To create the picture for you, it had been over 3 years since either of my daughters were home for more than 2 or 3 months at the same time. In fact we had gotten used to months by ourselves in which we could enjoy an evening of dining and dancing without thinking about what was happening at home. We were able to find that oneness that we had not experienced since our 20s. It seemed over those 3 years that we could do what we wanted whenever we thought about it without worrying about our children. As with all things that season has ceased and a new one has begun.
It was now time for us to begin the real work of preparing her to establish herself in the world (in others words help her find a career). While we were both more than glad to help her in this endeavor, we did have make some sacrifices. We now had to go back to scheduling when we wanted to spend time together. While we love assisting her in getting to her next stage in life, we found ourselves again immersed in the process of focusing all of our energy on her. The spontaneity waned and we started putting our needs on hold at least for this period of time.
Now, I don’t know about you but when I was told about being an empty nester I got excited! Now the nest was no longer empty. Now before you start thinking you’ve been sold a bag of good, let’s look at how God has been here with us all the time.
During this time we were already working on the upcoming marriage retreat so we were working with couples committed to keeping their relationship going no matter what, we continued to stay grounded in the word of God and prayed that God would show us how to address the crazy cycle that we now faced. We kept ourselves immersed in work that kept us around other couples who encouraged and nurtured us. We began to find little pockets of time where we could spend time together to do the things that we liked to do. While this was not the first time that we had to figure her into our plans it was still quite an adjustment after 3 years.
So God doesn’t do anything just to do it and our question was simply “What is God trying to show us?” So what did we need to do? How about making it so we could take a vacation for our anniversary and then another one with our girls. We normally would go somewhere for anniversary but not necessarily as a family. God showed us that by getting closer to him we could get closer to one another and provide opportunities for our family that we had forgotten about. Now our daughter is on track to be ready to get a job in the September/October timeframe.
So how do you recover after sorta’ losing the empty nest? You don’t. You pray to God and watch him make it happen. God has his hands on us. He is teaching us how we can have a oneness as husband and wife as well as family. God, the third thread of the triple braided strand called marriage, holds us together as one and provides the glue to every family. So the more we continue to dip ourselves in the teachings of Jesus the better we become and the oneness that we have become transformative in all that we do and with everyone that we meet.