Love is a powerful force. As parents, we love beyond what we ever knew we could. The flow seems endless even through hard seasons. And then one day when our sons and daughters grow up and move on, part of our heart retreats inside to grieve and process. While this is a normal and often necessary part of the empty nest, I’d like to pull on you if you’re isolated and hurting right now. There are still so many to love.
No, not one of them will replace the one you’re missing. They aren’t meant to. But allowing yourself to love and care for others in your loss accomplishes two very important things:
- It keeps your soul refreshed and healthy.
- It gives the gift of hope and life to someone else.
My husband, Matt, and I are currently in the process of buying a piece of wetlands. While the opportunity took us completely by surprise, my heart leapt when I read the description of the property: A mile of spring creek, several ponds, and acres and acres of wildlife and waterfowl habitat. Both of us have long dreamed of living on property with water — Matt for training retrievers and me for the simple pleasure of listening to its music.
As we later walked the property, we couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities. I noticed, however, one pond had gotten stagnant even though a freshwater spring was just yards away. With a little effort we could dig the pond deeper and connect the two, giving a continual flow coming in and pushing water through into a creek on the other side. This wouldn’t be a huge engineering feat, but it would take purposeful action. Comparing the smelly pond to what it could be would make the effort worth it, however.
The Bigger Picture of Love
Our lives are a lot like a pond. We need a fresh flow of love coming in and pouring out. Both are necessary for a healthy life. If you lack either, you eventually become so self-focused you either dry up or fester with bitterness like a stagnant pond. But with a little effort, you can start the flow of love through your life again.With a little effort you can start the flow of love through your life again. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
First… to let others love you.
Isolation is a dark trap. You start out protecting yourself from one thing in particular, but before you know it your wall has separated you from the people and things you love. Like the spring and stagnant pond above, there may only be a few feet between you, but there’s no connection. No flow. And the longer the separation, the more the excuses. Communication becomes difficult. Misunderstandings grow. Often unnecessarily.
You can be surrounded by people who love you, but you have to choose to receive it. The ultimate and purest flow of love will come through your relationship with God. But there should also be a connection with the people around you. It may start with a close friend or spouse. Or maybe a stranger who can slowly get to know you and help you find courage again. However it comes, everyone needs to receive love to be healthy.
Now, to give it away.
I’m sitting in the library as I write this… one of my very favorite places. On one side a little girl who looks to be four or five is dancing around. We made a connection a few days ago when she walked up to me with a smile. On my other side, an elderly couple from my church family is passing time before an appointment. Many others sit or walk around me. I can’t help but wonder if I’m here by design. If the Holy Spirit has an invitation for me to express love in a particular way. Sadly, however, if I was consumed by my own lack or loss, I’d never see the open door.
Bringing it closer to home, many of my friends are currently caring for aging parents or sick loved ones. We’re at an age where we can’t deny this will be a part of life. Again, if you focus only on your own loss, you’ll either miss precious time and opportunity with family and friends or you’ll have little to give. Both are an unnecessary loss.If I'm consumed by my own lack or loss, I'll never see the open door. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
This is my encouragement: Take care of you by letting others love you. Slowly. Gently. Expectantly. Then let your love pour out. It will look a hundred different ways as you give to various people and needs. The important thing is for love to be flowing in and through you, keeping you alive and vibrant.
- Be yourself.
- Slow but steady.
- Give from overflow.
- Believe the best.
- Have fun.