Goodbye can feel like the coldest word you’ve ever said as you drop your son or daughter off to an empty dorm room and new life. Tears are held back, then burst like a dam as you drive away to your own new season. The last thing on your mind is how to embrace the goodbye. You just want to run back for a moment longer.
I remember that sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach as I moved our oldest to an apartment with friends and put our youngest on a plane to New Zealand. Wondering if I’d lost something I might not get back; worried I hadn’t said all that needed to be said; uncertain about what might appear in the dark tunnel ahead of me. These were a few reminders of the inherent pain of goodbye.
Going to another day, thousands of years ago, imagine the confusion the disciples felt as Jesus spoke of His own impending goodbye:
In a little while you won’t see me anymore.
But a little while after that, you will see me again.”
John 16:16 NASB
Some of the disciples questioned among themselves,
What does he mean when he says,
‘In a little while you won’t see me,
but then you will see me,’
and ‘I am going to the Father’?
And what does he mean by ‘a little while’?
We don’t understand.”
(v. 17-18, NASB)
The disciples had eaten, slept, walked, taught, healed, and lived life with Jesus for three years. They had opened their hearts and lives to Him in ways they couldn’t of imagined a few short years before. Now He was leaving and they couldn’t go along.
You may feel a similar turmoil at facing an empty nest. Maybe you don’t understand exactly what this new season means or when you’ll see your kids again. Maybe you find yourself walking in circles, trying to keep busy, to not notice the loss. The upheaval in your heart as a parent is not just a bump in the road. It goes deep to the core of your purpose.
Yet there comes a moment in all of the tears and confusion and questions when you must let truth break through. Although mourning loss is natural, grief left unchecked will bring even greater loss. It will bring the death of hope and dreams to come and even steal away and distort the joy and memories of the past. Grief without truth slowly leads you to a deep, dark pit of despair not easily escaped.Grief without truth leads to despair. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
While the disciples questioned what was about to happen, Jesus spoke truth.
It is to your advantage that I go away. #emptynest #goodbye Click To Tweet
I am going to Him who sent Me…
But I tell you the truth,
it is to your advantage that I go away;
for if I do not go away,
the Helper will not come to you;
but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
John 16:5, 7
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples – and to you – to help, comfort, and lead you through the dark clouds of goodbye. He knows your deepest groans, but also the joy up ahead. Although it may not seem like it now, it is to both your and your kids’ advantage that they have gone away. Trust Him: He sees the bigger picture and knows the way forward.
But you must be willing to listen.
I often hear the pain of empty nesters. Although I sincerely recognize the depth of hurt and confusion that can come with saying goodbye to adult kids, I also see many who don’t really want to let go. They don’t really want to hear truth that will allow them to move forward with hope and purpose. This is a dangerous and slippery slope.
Please know: truth will set you free. (John 8:32) It may sting, but it’ll give you a firm place to stand while making room for healing and freedom from hidden issues that have been pushed under the rug of parenting busyness:
- Fear of the unknown
These unwanted tormentors may have been lurking in the dark corners of your heart for years. But now, as they raise their ugly heads, opportunity for healing also rises to meet them. Lean into the Word of God. Lean into His presence. Lean into community with those who have gone before and can speak encouragement, truth, and strength.
Lean in to hear the words of truth the Holy Spirit has for you today.Goodbye can be a doorway to joy... #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
Goodbye can be a doorway to joy if you embrace the opportunities it brings for both you and your newly released kids. Trust the process. There’s much to look forward to ahead.
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca (tears)
they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.”
Psalm 84:5-7 NASB
How have you learned to move through grief to hope?
Please share other tips you have for those still adjusting to loss?