Time changes what you hold onto, where you place value, and which priorities rise to the top. While excitement and vision are important ingredients to living a life you love, healthy boundaries are vital for your overall success. This is especially true during your empty nest years. You’re in the perfect place to take inventory and do a little spring cleaning.
To become someone you have never been, you must let go of who you have been until now. ~ Sam Adeyemi
I’m not the greatest gardener. But I love watching life happen and gardening is one of the best methods I know. Seeds to weeds to fruit, each stage begins with hope and ends in wisdom.
As a young wife and mom, I dreamed of color bursting alive and spilling over in vases on my windowsills. I had often helped Mom and Dad with their gardens when growing up. But unattached labor isn’t the same as planting a piece of yourself with each seed. I hadn’t yet learned the lessons of a true gardener.
Learning how to set priorities.
In our first home, I eagerly mapped out the landscaping. Hungry for any sign of growth, I naively allowed weeds to sprout up right along with the flowers. If it was green, growing, and produced a bud, I let it stay. Months later I’d regret my decision. Hours of labor and garbage cans full of weeds did little to save my flower beds.
Today, well today I pull up and chop down perfectly good plants with a smile and a deeper understanding. I acknowledge that space is needed between flowers and shrubs to allow for full maturity. I recognize the cycle of life is not so delicate that setting boundaries will squelch it. Pruning, clearing, separating – these all lend to a healthy, lush garden.
In the same way, pruning, clearing, and separation is key to a healthy, productive life. Against all that culture tells us, more isn’t always better. Setting priorities leads to success. Self-control produces beauty and peace.The cycle of life is not so delicate that setting boundaries will squelch it. #emptynest Click To Tweet
Getting rid of weeds.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to call a weed a weed. No, it’s not easy, but it’s time to admit what only brings grief, work, and frustration. You know what they are. They consistently drain you of energy and joy. Usually they can fall into one of three categories:
- Negative choices.
- Negative relationships.
- Negative emotions.
At the risk of sounding harsh… Stop giving these place to grow in your heart and life. They should be pulled up and removed without looking back. They will try to sprout up again, but remember the frustration and labor involved in entertaining a compromised life. Remember how draining it is to hope for beauty only to find more weeds. Be ruthless. Dig them up and make room for a new season.
It’s time to call a weed a weed. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
Removing the good to gain the best.
Next, all good things need to be pruned, separated, and pulled up every so often. You may really enjoy a variety of activities, but too much of a good thing is killing you. Or maybe one interest in particular is taking over your whole life. It won’t stay in its time slot anymore and costs far more than you expected. You still love doing it, but end up exhausted from the effort.
Or maybe it’s a specific relationship. While family and friends are vital to a healthy life, you can let one relationship push the boundaries and take over if you’re not careful. Even beautiful pieces of life lose their appeal when they push everything else out. Healthy boundaries allow you to enjoy the gift someone is to your life, without waiting until you’re ready to bag the whole thing.
Handpick specific relationships, activities, and plans to take center stage for a season, but let them go dormant to allow time for others to grow and bloom also. Notice, I said dormant. They don’t completely die off, but are put on hold for a time. Allowing margin for your own rest, others interests and relationships will naturally stay consistent through all seasons.
Life takes on new joy and purpose when given open spaces. Instead of packing in more friends or activities or expectations, a rest and ease settles in when you allow room to breathe and savor. No more striving to make something happen. No more striving for perfection. Just sitting together or doing that one thing you love brings great joy when not packed into an already full schedule.
I’m not perfect at this, but I’ve learned to recognize when weeds have sprouted or one plant is taking over the whole garden. With greater understanding and ease I prune away unnecessary activities and clear out unrealistic expectations. I carefully transplant relationships so each can be appreciated on their own, not in a tangled mess of busyness. In the end, each of us lives to a greater, more graceful potential.Life takes on new joy and purpose when given open spaces. #emptynest Click To Tweet
- Where does your life need pruning?
- What weeds should be dug up once and for all?
- Please share any tips you’ve learned in the process of making room for God’s best.