THE LONELINESS OF AN EMPTY NEST

Posted: January 21, 2014 in CHILDREN

There is a photo that sits on the sink in my bathroom now that has replaced a picture of what once was my two daughters. It is a picture of my two grand boys. I see that picture everyday as I pass by the sink to brush my teeth or fix my hair. There are times that I will pause and even shed a tear or two because I miss them so much and my heart aches to be with them. I have had many heartaches in my lifetime and some of them have been because of a loved one that was once an ever present companion but moved on in their life and left a void in my own.

I recall the time when my younger sister move to another state because of her family situation and it left a huge hole in my heart even though I knew it was better for her that she go. I also recall a time that my older sister moved away from me because of a better job situation. Her moving away from me tore a hole through my heart like you could not imagine. I recall standing in my back yard, looking up to the sky, crying and begging God, asking Him why He had allowed her to move away from me at that time in my life. I had felt very alone and almost abandoned.

But I have never felt loneliness in the form of pain like I did when my daughters left home to begin their own lives and families apart from their Dad and me. While I might not had planned to build my life on my children, I must tell you that after they were gone, I realized very quickly that I had built my life all around them. Their happiness and protection was what I lived for. I was a determined mother with a cause and a plan. But there was one problem with that plan; I found that I had not made very good plans for a future after they were gone. Oh, I might have joked about it by saying things like, “When my kids leave home, I am going to do such and such”….but I had only dreamed and talked about it, as I busied myself living my life with and through them.

At first it was all good and fun as we packed them up and moved them into their new homes to begin their own new lives apart from us. Besides, Charles and I had been raising them to be on their own ….I was the one that would end up having a problem of being apart from them…They were busy starting their new lives apart from us and enjoying it. While I can remember them calling me at times saying that they missed us and later on, even missing the home that they had grown up in….they never dealt with loneliness like I did, nor did my husband and I must tell you that I am glad, that they didn’t!

What I soon began to realize, was that I was going to have to learn how to overcome that loneliness and shake it off, because it was paralyzing the parts of me that once was vibrant, busy and even lovely. I mean the part of me that attracted others to the Lord. I could feel myself climbing into a shell. I never wanted to go anywhere, do anything and I found myself for the first time in my life, not wanting to be around people. You see the loneliness was taking me over. I felt like it was controlling my life; and it was! It was one of the toughest challenges of my life to face the fact that my daughters were no longer around… to run to town with me or go up to the Church as I worked on some project. I was by myself…I worked during the day, Charles worked at night and I was alone. That sad loneliness filled the empty void that was in my heart and it became the replacement in the girl’s absence…it had become my dark friend.

In the few years that came and in the midst of dealing with the groping pain of loneliness from missing my daughters, divorce hit our family and devastated us all… it’s repercussions were felt by our entire family as well as my life and even within my own personal ministry. My youngest daughter went through a horrible divorce that made me understand God’s love in more ways and levels than I could ever begin to tell you about. And while we have seen God restore what satan has tried to destroy, I must tell you that the pain of it all, was overwhelming at times. It always came in waves that hit me when I was least expecting it. Yet, I was determined not to be moved by it, no matter how it tore at me. While I did not understand so much of what was happening to me, because it was all coming at the same time, I was determined to stay the course, develop the tenacity to stick to what I knew and not to worry about what I did not know; and understand that in time the Lord would work it out….and He did and He is!

I found that, as in times past, only the Lord could give me the comfort I needed. As I looked to friends, no one had any special words to say to me that could relieve the anguish in my heart during those days. For the most part the ones that I did turn to had never gone through what I was going through; while others would not admit to their own pain and lived in denial as to the fact that their children had never gone through what mine was going through, and the pain only grew as I felt like a failure and blamed myself for it all. I actually felt worse when I sought their comfort, compassion and understanding and swore if I ever got through those days (and I knew that I would, through Christ) I would be a towering lighthouse to those that hurt and felt alone.
Well, joy truly does come in the morning; after the darkness passes. I have learned that I must bear with it until it passes and that with God all things are possible. We can not appreciate the light until we have understood the darkness; and sweet friend, I can promise you that you can not understand that darkness until you have passed through it. Until you have felt the cold dark arms grip you in it’s vice and hold you tight until you feel like you could pass out. I am talking about the kind of darkness that hides in the closets of our loneliness and self pity. Its presence will lure you in by making you think that there is comfort and pity for you there. But friend you will wake up one day only to find that you are alone and worse off than you were before you entertained it’s invitation.

Coping with loneliness is only a byproduct of facing life’s challenges. Your friends may not always understand what it feels like to be in your situation unless they’ve been in that circumstance themselves. Perhaps they don’t comprehend your challenges or are unwilling to face their own struggles and may not know how they can help you with yours. Therefore, you can feel like your friends are letting you down. But may I remind you that Jesus is a constant friend in whom you can confide and find resolve. Run to Him….your faith will guide you as you go!

In retrospect, I can now see that God had moved on my behalf, in all of the events that took place during those deep, dark valleys in my life. At times, I was struggling to hear God’s voice and seeking to see Him work…..and some days I could and in those days that I could not, I chose to trust Him; because sometimes His answers were not what I was seeking or expecting at the time…but in the end, they all proved to be what I needed; And that is what I mean by “joy does come in the morning”…it is all in God’s time. We forget that while we are busy raising up our children, God is busy raising us up spiritually; and in order to grow up we have to be stretched and moved away from where we are.

I even felt that my spirituality was being judge on the level of where I was… by some people… and in my defense all that I could do to encourage myself was to recall scriptures and be encouraged through them and what I knew was the truth, not what I perceived others to be thinking of me or my situation. Scriptures like Proverbs 5:21: “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines His paths.” Erroneously, the world far too often equates health and prosperity with God’s blessings; and suffering and pain with God’s judgment. When many times, we simply go through trials for the experience, to be able to help others…not because of some sin that we have committed.

As I was dealing with and coping with my loneliness and pain at it’s very deepest level; I was reading my Bible and one day one of the scriptures that I read reminded me that the same thing happened to Jesus…. in His darkest hour in the Garden of Gethsemane his friends had deserted Him and He was all alone Matthew 26 to work it out by Himself. A light bulb went off and for the first time in that situation I really felt like someone understood the place where I was at… He had to go through those dark days alone….why….because no one else really understood what He was facing. No one could give Him advice, He had to do it alone; and alone He did face it; and that is why He now understands our loneliness and pain, because He too suffered it. Jesus met me at my point of need, at my point of pain. He too felt abandoned for a while… so He is all about our sufferings….because He too suffered!

I found great comfort in the fact that Jesus experienced everything that I experience, and He knows exactly how I feel. He can comfort us, because He’s been there too. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to stick closer to us than a brother. He says that if we call for help, He will say, “Here am I!” So right now….run to Him! Ask Him to take away your pain and loneliness of that missing person or relationship; and after you have ask Him to take the pain away, be willing, ”really willing” to give it to Him….that is the key….to give it to Him. I am not sure that we will ever escape being tempted to be lonely…because I still feel it when I look at those two boys in that picture sitting on my sink….yet now I know because of my past experience with my daughters that I can move on to another place, if I am willing to run to the source of my strength to get what I need to make it through whatever I may have to endure.

God provides us with an awesome sense of worth when we trust Him and run to Him. When we give Him our loneliness and self pity…He says in Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime …I will carry you along and save you.” The Lord is here to help us enjoy our future years, have peace in them, and find the perfect balance in the next stage of life. Like me, you too will have to find your own way, because its part of life’s lessons….but remember, you are not alone, seek the Lord while He may be found, because He is what and who your soul is looking for! He is that refreshing drink that we all thirst for!
Loving you and praying for your joy to be complete as you turn to Him,
Bren

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