As she entered this world, she needed me to physically care for her every need. It was essential that she have me hold, change, feed, bathe, clothe, and nurture her. Then, as she transitioned through a myriad of milestones, she desired for me to teach her to tie her shoes, button her pants, and respond with zeal as she took her first steps. Grace upon grace, she continued to learn, grow and need me to help sound out words, put pen to paper, and understand numbers in math problems (okay, so maybe she leaned heavily on her father for this one, but I was ever-present and there!)
As she entered her adolescent years, she needed me to share about the cycle of life and the biology of a woman with how our bodies grow and change. It was vital to rise above my own fears to instruct and encourage her as she took the wheel of a car to begin learning how to drive. As we embark on all things that come with becoming an independent, young adult at the age of eighteen, she invited me to discuss the responsibilities that come with the casting of her first vote. We enjoy discussions talking through her own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.
Through it all, it is obvious the ebb and flow of life. Time moves fluidly from one second to the next; building until moments unfold, experiences are encountered, and memories are cultivated. Days come and go. Seasons morph and, whether or not we are ready for a transition into the new season, we had better hang on. After all, time moves on and there is nothing that can be done about that fact.
I have recently found myself in a season where there has been a great deal of change to embrace and navigate. A new job, a cross-country move, and the dividing of family across the country as we seek to fully transition from one place to the next, have all been experiences encountered in a short amount of time. Observing how each of the personalities in our family greet these changes has brought about the realization that, not only are we each unique and vastly different from one another, but we have a choice in all the upheaval. We can choose to transition gracefully from moment to moment, ultimately accepting the inevitability of change; or we can dig in our heels, basically refuting the very notion of change. Essentially, we can just plain-flat refuse to accept the new reality before us.
Being one who desires to transition gracefully, I strive to yield to the personal growth and development that has the opportunity to occur. I consciously make the choice to embrace the shifting times with joy. While it certainly isn’t easy, I have found some ways that truly benefit me while stumbling ever more graciously into my acceptance of change.
Embracing Change: Allowing Time to Process
First, I have found it incredibly helpful to simply allow myself time. Time to process, revel in the newness of change, and letting go of all that I might be holding onto from what used to be. I have found processing readily occurs when I am active or creating. Reflection occurs as I exercise, create, or journal. I have also personally found it healthier for relationships when I strive not to react, but instead, respond. Responding, by definition, is to say something in reply. In slight contrast, reacting is to behave in a particular way in response to something. Where reacting might be an instantaneous, volatile trigger and kickback, responding might require a deep breath, and taking a moment to think through my actions before reacting to the circumstance or situation that is unfolding.
I have always known that transitioning into an empty-nest household would be inevitable. Yet, experiencing an empty nest in the year 2020 was honestly something I had never considered. After all, we have a ten-year-old at home. Yet, due to the provision of a new job for my husband (across the country), our daughter has chosen to pioneer the way forward in all things new with her dad. At this time, I remain in another state trying to sell our home while the older sisters navigate through their senior year of high school. Prematurely, our family is divided and I find myself living a lifestyle of the “pre” empty-nest.
What is this “Pre” Empty Nest?
Our teens are ready to fly and leave the roost. Both having jobs, they are also busy with their online studies. Likewise, they are forever leaving home to be with their friends or to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities. This leaves me, their mom, considering all this unexpected change in a new and different light.
I could hold onto resentment and bitterness over not being the one to come alongside our daughter during her fifth-grade year. Or, I could let go and celebrate this special time she has to relish her dad’s undivided attention. This is a time where she isn’t competing with her two older sisters for his attention. She can revel in his love and nurturing. It’s truly a time like no other.
Likewise, her sisters, in their adolescent independence, are establishing new lives for themselves. They need me in a different way. As they actively make choices for their future, they reach out to me in new ways. Undoubtedly, it’s time for each of us to find our new places in our ever-changing world.
Transitioning: Finding Your Place
Author and founder of Lifeway Ministries, Beth Moore, shares these thoughts on finding your place:
“I think that maybe what a lot of us have in common is that we can’t figure out where we land exactly, and where we belong exactly. We want so much for there to be a label with it. We’re so forever trying to define ourselves…and for all of us who love the written word, love to turn a phrase and have thoughts land in language, I think maybe somewhat of a nomadic mentality might be helpful to us. I think that it helps us move around in a lot of circles. That would be the one thing I would tell you in my struggle for belonging.”Beth Moore, Tuesday Teaching Podcast with Hope*Writers, February 11, 2020
While I will always be blessed with the role of being a mother, teacher, and friend, what those roles looked like five years ago are very different than what they look like presently in 2020. Stepping with grace into the new parameters of these roles is essential to me. I yearn to do this well, and considering “somewhat of a nomadic mentality” is indeed is helpful to me.
Yielding to all that is new, I want to grow and not remain entrenched in all that once was. Even as the winds of change blow fiercely against my resistance, I pray I can let go. I yearn to embrace the unsettled nature of being a nomad and respond to change with grace and kindness. Consequently, may I embrace the time that has been freed so I can move and ponder what it looks like to fill available time with new roles and purpose.
Embracing Change: Inviting Others In
Lastly, I have found what a balm it is to broaden and grow in community with others. Letting others into the inner-workings of my own world, I have found it pure joy to have a friend to walk alongside and through any given circumstance. With each of us being created for relationship, bonds are built when experiences are shared with one another. Peace is enjoyed when we have a shoulder to lean on, or a listening ear to help process all options. Being a recipient of all of this is nothing less than a gift and godsend.
While shouldering the burden of change, others can help provide a different perspective. Likewise, others can be a bearer of great comfort and support when those responses are deeply needed. I know I am personally grateful for the rapport of others in my life. I am grateful for having experienced the blessing that comes from sharing my circumstances with another. Moreover, I am equally blessed when given the opportunity to hold another through to the other side of the often topsy-turvy transitions.
Dance Into Change with Grace
So, will I fight this change or step into it graciously? Will I let go of what once was and allow for the new memories to unfold and take shape? Will I relish growth and be present in the moment or stubbornly hide within resistance and resentment of all change? Considering the needs of others, and how I am personally involved, change comes with the dawning of each new day. Yet, when I choose to rise to the challenge, embrace the moment, and step out with a willingness to talk through things, I discover the courage to find my new place in it all. After all, it is my hope that our daughters will continue to need me to encourage and support them as they set flight to their hopes and dreams. May each of us choose to accept and transition through change with courage and joy.