Recently, I sat with a friend who uttered the tear-filled words, “I am no longer a mother.” She explained that her children had gone to college in different states, her nest was empty, and her heart felt saddened by the radical change. Given that most of her daily life revolved around children for almost two decades, it came as no surprise that she needed time to grieve the loss.
Many Christian women who no longer have children at home find themselves in the same place. The reassuring news is that motherhood is not a short-term commitment—it’s a lifetime covenant. Mary the mother of Jesus was present throughout his ministry and mentioned among those who witnessed his crucifixion. In fact, one of the last things Jesus did before his death was to ensure that his mother was recognized and taken care of (John 19:25–27). If Mary is our model, motherhood is not limited by age or proximity.
Although our homes or “nests” might seem empty when our children leave, the act of parenting extends well beyond the childhood years and well beyond our own walls. As we seek to reimagine our nests—especially with the holidays around the corner—we might do well to consider these four insights:
1. Think of your nest as open, not empty.
The term “empty nester” sometimes carries connotations of hollowness, hopelessness, and loss of identity. But those who have raised children and launched them into the world carry special wisdom, knowledge, and grace. We are full, not empty, and the hard-won wisdom of our years is a tool that God can use as we evangelize and disciple those around us. As the writer of Job says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12).
Furthermore, motherhood goes beyond the children that we physically birth and includes the many others that we’re called to care for and love—our friends’ kids, our Sunday school students, our colleagues, friends, and neighbors. In other words, our nest is not empty—it’s ever extending to those around us.
2. Find a younger mother to invest in.
Scripture invites older generations to be influencers of the younger generations (2 Tim. 1:5, Titus 2:3–5, Heb. 13:7). When we see our nest as a growing space rather than an empty one, we recognize the need to make room for other women who need our support. As Levina Musumba Mulandi writes, “Titus 2:3–5 tells us that the older women are called to participate in the transformation of younger women. … This model has the power to transform not just individuals but also our communities and cities on this side of eternity.”
Years ago, I had the privilege of being part of a MOPS group that assigned each mother a mentor mom. The mentor usually had a child in middle school, at least, and was older and wiser than the young mother mentee. To this day, I’m still in contact with the mentor I was assigned to. Whether I talk to her daily or yearly, I know that her wisdom will speak to my motherhood journey and direct me back to God.
As you navigate your own empty nest, seek out a young mother you can pray for behind the scenes, one who can receive your words in the light of wise counsel. As Proverbs tells us, “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).
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SOURCE: Christianity Today, Victoria Riollano