I believe we all go through times in our lives when we struggle with identity. I mean, who are we really from one life season to the next? A teenager, a young single, a young married adult, then children come along. As soon as life seems to take on some kind of rhythm or familiarity, BAM, things change. So, in order to adapt and survive, we do our best to change with it. In the midst of it all, it is easy to lose who we are, not who our circumstances dictate that we be, but who we really are way down deep in our soul. Our likes, dislikes, fears, joys, beliefs, convictions, fashion taste, even the food we choose to eat. I am definitely in the “bam” part of life right now. Changing from being a mom of an active family to an almost empty nest. For a long time I found my identity in being a mom of young children. I was totally in my element. Not that I was ever a superb mom, I just loved being one. I whined just like most every other mom about the menial tasks that we have to do, but I never felt like I wasn’t doing something really great in and for the world. Well, maybe once or twice I had a pity party about the 200 diapers a week I was changing, the countless loads of laundry. (Okay, so maybe it was more than once or twice.) But, for the most part, I loved exactly what I was doing. Maybe that’s why this season of parenting has been so hard for me. I mean, honestly, how do you parent college age kids? I mean, young adults? I feel like less and less of a mom. Or, at least the mom I am used to being. Suddenly, or maybe not so suddenly, I am not needed like I once was. People tell me that’s not true, that I am still needed, but it doesn’t feel like it. There are only three of us at home most of the time, my youngest son, my husband and myself; the house is quiet a lot. My sixteen year old is gone to school activities and out with friends much of the time these days. He started driving this year so I no longer have to do the school drop of thing. The laundry is not nearly as big of a deal. (Honestly, it’s no big deal to me at all anymore as my husband took that over a few years back, bless him.) The house doesn’t get as messy as it used to, not near as much traffic through here. Life just looks totally different now and I’m not sure if I like it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss cleaning the house endlessly or doing sink loads of dishes. But, I do miss feeling like I have a purpose. When my kids were younger, I felt I was molding and shaping the minds and hearts of the little people God placed in my life. I tell myself that, of course, I still have purpose. But, then I come home to an empty house and wonder what it is. These are unchartered waters for me, new terrain. I am desperately seeking the Lord about this. What is next for me? Why does change have to feel so empty? Why can’t I be one of those people who gets excited about what’s next? Anybody else feel this way? My friends tell me that I will adjust, that soon I will start to love the freedom. I find that hard to believe, but I am listening to them, internalizing what they are telling me. Now I find myself the parent of young adults. And you know what? They have minds of their own. We’ve prayed over them their whole lives that they would be “leaders and not followers.” (Seriously, just ask one of them, they will tell you that they’ve heard that prayer since they can remember.) Well, the Lord has answered that prayer, but not in the way we expected. It’s true they haven’t followed the latest fads when it comes to rebellion, but they also haven’t just blindly believed everything we’ve told them to be true. They feel like they need to learn some of the lessons of life on their own. (I know, right?! The nerve!) And with that has come a whole new level of prayer and trust for me. It hasn’t been easy to let go and allow them to make their own choices, after all, WE made most of their choices for many years. It’s not something I easily relinqish, it seems like the Lord has had to pry my fingers off the “control” button. Or at least my imaginary button, because I know in my head that only He is in control. But, my heart wants its own way. I want to feel like I have a say in what goes on around me and in the life of my kids. But, more and more I see them starting their own lives, doing just exactly what we raised them to do. And even though they don’t always make the decisions I wish they’d make, they are learning to be adults, happy well-adjusted ones at that. (And this is where I would give almost anything to talk to my mom, to thank her for allowing me the chance to grow up, to figure this all out for myself. She gave me such a gift of unconditional love as the Lord did His work in me. I’m sure she wanted to intervene more than once, but she didn’t and it was the best thing for me.) I don’t know how long it will be before I begin to find my place in my new normal, or figure out my new identity. I feel like I am missing an appendage a lot of the time. But, I do know that I will keep getting up, meeting the Lord first thing, putting one foot in front of the other and facing the day with all the strength the Lord gives me. My story continues, life keeps changing, children grow up and move on and, as if that weren’t enough, my hair keeps getting grayer. (This is a big deal!) I don’t know how or when, but I know that He will give me all that I need to survive and eventually thrive in yet another new season of life. As a matter of fact, my husband and I went to a movie a few nights ago by ourselves, no kids. We had the whole bucket of popcorn all to ourselves, shared a drink and held hands like teenagers. As we were leaving, I thought that if this is what’s ahead for us, maybe it won’t be too bad. And it made me smile.
I looked up a few verses for encouragement and I decided I would share them with you. I hope you are drinking a cup of coffee right now, snuggled under a blanket enjoying some time to read. But, if you’re not, which is probably the case, then I hope these verses touch you in the deepest places of your heart and make you feel the warmth and comfort that only He can give, with or without the coffee.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“Look to the Lord for strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4