Tag Archives: empty nest

Bigger than Myself

With my younger son about to start his final year in our homeschool, I have been thinking more of what I want to do next. More of what kind of legacy I want to leave. For years, it has been what do my children or what does my husband need to the exclusion of what I need.

This has even been true in the church from the activities my children have participated in to the ministries my husband has been involved with. And if I express a need, well, it’s called selfish, if not out loud, then in my own head. So, I have buried my own longings of doing things I’m good at or having a chance to participate in something for Jesus.

People might think my expressing these longings have thrust me toward the feminist camp, or they might think that I’m more of a traditionalist because I’ve stayed at home all of these years, but I don’t think I’m totally either. I’m a daughter of God praying about and looking to see the next thing He wants me to do when this phase of my life is over. I don’t want to be pushed aside because I’m a woman or told to sacrifice something just because I am a woman.

I’ve been struggling with how to voice all of this especially since I don’t want to be selfish either. I want everyone in my family to be doing the work God wants them to do. I watched something earlier on one of my favorite TV shows that has given me a voice to express this longing. It wasn’t a Christian show, but it had a message God wanted to send me.

One of the main characters on this show had been imprisoned with his son, and they were facing death within the next day. This guy was one of the main bad guys, and there was no attempting to gloss over that fact. He was telling his son to kill him in their upcoming fight (which their captors had scheduled) so he would make it out. He wanted his son’s life to count more than his life ever did. I don’t know any parent that could argue with this. He was very convicted of the bad things he had done, but thought that, if his son lived, he could leave something bigger than himself behind. And that was the phrase that leaped out at me–in blinking neon lights. “Bigger than himself.”

That’s what I’m trying to find–something that would leave an impact bigger than myself. Something that would be meaningful to the Kingdom of God. Because, I don’t have that right now. People miss my husband if he’s not at church; they miss my kids if they’re not at church, but they don’t miss me. There are things I would like to be asked to do, but other people are selected over me. Sometimes I feel like I’m the quiet kid shunted over to the corner so people can get the talent the other kids bring–my husband’s ability with the media board, my sons’ youth. I do things to satisfy others, but never myself. I look at these words I just wrote and think to myself, ‘There I go again being selfish. Whatever I want should be at the bottom of the list. Isn’t that what being a good Christian wife and mother is supposed to be? Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do?’

I’m not sure about the answer to the first question, but I know the unequivocal answer to the second is yes. I think a caveat needs to be added though. There are several verses in Scripture that talk about God’s plans.  Verses such as Proverbs 16:3. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Then there is Proverbs 20:24 which says, “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

“Directed by the Lord.” When a person’s heart and mind are centered on God in prayer, He can give us longings and desires. That might be considered by some to be a cop-out especially if it’s a woman wanting to make a difference for God, but hear me out. How does a person know they’re supposed to preach? How does someone know they want to develop their musical talent in order to lead worship? What about the person who wants to work with children or teenagers? What about the person who has a talent with numbers? These are all God-given desires that He wants us to act upon. So, how is that any different than someone who is trying to find a ministry focus or a new avenue to leave something of themselves behind? I don’t think it is, but there is an important thing to consider. Are we just doing it for ourselves, or are we wanting to do something that we have prayed about and that will bring glory to our Lord and Savior? If it’s the latter, may I suggest that it is a God-given desire we should do our best to act upon and not let Satan discourage us when he throws obstacles in our way.

And, there is the solution to my struggle. I’m told I do a good job of writing my way through problems to get to a solution. This was a God thing though. 🙂 Right down to the Scriptures I found earlier. So thankful for my God who has given me this writing talent. May we all keep our eyes on Jesus so we will know what He wants us to do!

God’s blessings on you all today!

 

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Something Better

I tried to look in my post archives earlier to see if I had written something similar to this recently, but WordPress or my Internet service (not sure which) were being stubborn, and I couldn’t find anything. I think this might have been God’s way of telling me I needed write about it anyway so that’s what you’re gonna get today. 🙂

Most of us like to look at Facebook memories, right? Things we posted a year ago, two years ago, and so forth and so on. In one of my memories from a year ago, I read about how I was excited about something I had finally gained the courage to try. It was bittersweet to read that today because it didn’t work out for a number of reasons.

Didn’t work out. I’ve used those words for many things during my life. Sometimes, I’ve been happy to use those words, like when things would have ended up being more difficult than I had thought. But, other times, I’ve been sad to use those words, like today.

There’s been a meme with this quote going around Facebook that I think is appropriate to share here. Said by Thomas Edison. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This certainly applies to the things I’ve tried, but not succeeded at. There have been many ways that haven’t worked for me over the past few years.

This was brought into sharp focus for me yesterday. My son and I went to watch the football game his youth group was playing in honor of the Super Bowl. He wasn’t participating because football has never been a big thing in our home. We are more of a baseball family. Anyway, I told him we needed to try something different so we went to watch. It was interesting. Fun too. But, as I observed the game, I realized something. We are about to age out of youth group (He’s a junior.), and the parents and teens left in the group will have a lot more in common. A sad, but realistic observation. And also, an observation, I think, as to why I’ve been floundering. I don’t feel like I fit…anywhere, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once I have an empty nest. I’m working on some ideas, but nothing has been solidified which makes me nervous. I don’t want to get to the point where I’m pressuring either of my sons to give me grandchildren. That’s not fair to them or to me. God gave me a mind to use, and it shouldn’t be dependent on fulfillment through anyone else.

But, the fact remains that I will have an empty nest in a little over a year, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. This brings me full circle back to the things I haven’t succeeded at during my life. I’ve been a mother and a wife for so long that other titles don’t come easily. The desire is there though. A desire to have something of my own. A desire to leave something of myself behind that is not just related to my being a wife or a mother. Something I might do at church or in the community or with employment.

Since the desires I’ve had so far haven’t succeeded yet, it would be easy to get discouraged. It’s hard to think that I’ve failed at things I thought God was calling me to do. God led me to some verses in Scripture that encouraged me. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

In Verse 7 of the same psalm, the psalmist says, “I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

And with these verses, something has become clear. I need to praise God through the failures and through the pain. The toughest thing in the world to do. But, God is teaching me through the failures, and it will lead to something better as long as I stay in His will. Help me, God, and help us all as we seek to listen to your voice.

God’s blessings on you all today!