5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester
I receive so many emails from readers telling me about the loss of purpose they feel as their children leave home and become less dependent on them. It makes me ache because I have been there. I want to share with you 5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester.
For all of my empty nest posts: Empty Nest Posts
5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester
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Becoming a mother gave me a purpose that I did not have to go looking for. It was immediately clear from the moment I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test what my purpose and calling were. I knew this child was from the Lord and it was my purpose to be his mother.
Then one day I hugged him goodbye in his new college town. I left with the realization that I had 5 years before I would leave all of my children at college. It had not occurred to me before that moment I would one day need to find something else to do besides live in my car dropping off and picking up kids.
I was so overwhelmed with the idea of working my way out of a job and the fear of what I was going to do I decided to write about it. I had heard about “blogging,” although I am not sure I had ever read one. I googled “how to start a blog” and began Almost Empty Nest.
It has been a bumpy ride with many stops and starts. It did not feel like a purpose at first, but it has become my calling. I recently wrote a calling statement:
I inspire, uplift, and transform women who are transitioning from a full nest to an empty nest so that they are able to let go, find their way, and embrace their empty nest.
I desire for you what I have found for myself – a purpose that never replaces your role as a mother, but gives you energy, fulfillment, and fun and allows you to share your God-given gifts with others.
Here are 5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester
LET GO OF IMPOSSIBLE
You may believe that it is impossible to move past your grief. It is impossible at your age to start something new or to fulfill a long-held dream. There are too many barriers and roadblocks in the way.
Do you remember the story of Abraham and Sarah? The story where one week in Sunday school you learned about Abraham’s call to leave his home and father a new nation. A few weeks later you learned about the birth of his son Isaac. Unlike the Sunday School journey, the real journey required more than a few weeks. It took 24 years with more roadblocks, detours, and drama than a telenovela. God was faithful to Abraham and Sarah. He will be faithful to you. You will be able to overcome your grief and you will be able to find new purposes and adventures.
For more about letting go of the limiting belief that it will be impossible: Help for Empty Nest Moms: Let Go of Impossible
LET GO OF BAD HABITS
We moms spend years putting everyone else first. If it required putting off our own physical and mental health needs, we did that. We ate nachos in the bleachers and we pushed our mental health issues aside. We chaperoned youth group, but neglected our own spiritual growth. We fear we are selfish if we take care of ourselves. It is not selfish to maintain your physical, mental, and spiritual health.
We can look to Jesus as our example. He often withdrew to be alone with God. There were people clamoring for his attention, but even God in the flesh knew he needed restoration and he took it. If you have neglected your physical, spiritual, or mental health, now is the time to take action. Make an appointment with your doctor. Talk about any and all issues you need guidance on. Listen to the advice you are given. Invest in therapy if you feel it would be helpful. Invest in time with the Lord.
LET GO OF UNMET EXPECTATIONS
We compare our arrival at midlife with the standard we see on our friends’ social media and on their rows at church filled with seemingly loving husbands, successful children, and adorable grandchildren. If our marriage is floundering, our adult child is asleep at home, and our greatest longings are unfulfilled, our minds are like an episode of “Hoarders,” cramped and dark with the debris and rubble of unmet expectations and years of disappointment.
It is not until we put these expectations and disappointments in perspective that we will look forward with a clear vision of the infinite possibilities available in God’s creation.
Look to the Israelites at the time of Christ. They spent hundreds of years yearning to restore the Davidic kingdom. By focusing only on this singular expectation most missed the most amazing gift ever given, Jesus Christ. Don’t miss what God has in store for you.
FIND YOUR WAY TO PURPOSE
New purpose will not come overnight. It may be a long and arduous trial and error journey or you may discover it right away. Use every self-discovery tool at your disposal to find your gifts and reveal where you are stuck. Some tools you can use are a spiritual gifts assessment, the Strengths Finder, and an Enneagram assessment. I recommend the book The Road Back to You as a companion to your enneagram assessment. You can find free enneagram assessments and spiritual gifts assessments through Google. I don’t have a particular ones I recommend.
FIND YOUR WAY FORWARD
Many life coaches and goal achievement methods recommend creating a vision board. A vision board is a collage of pictures and words revealing your dreams and goals. It is meant to inspire you. Inspiration is awesome, but you cannot stop there.
Progress requires more than a pretty vision board filled with inspiring pictures of perfect rooms, projects, and accomplishments. It requires backside in a chair, notebook in hand, calendar in the other, and the willingness to give up comfort and excuses.
The Apostle Paul had the singular goal of spreading the news of Jesus Christ. Everything he did and said was channelled through this goal. He planned his journeys, he considered who was accompanying him, and he did not let shipwrecks, imprisonment, or enemies dissuade him. Give your goals the planning and time they deserve.
Finding Purpose after your children leave home is not a journey for the faint of heart. You are up for the challenge. Give yourself some time to grieve and process the change in your life, but then get after it! Use these 5 Ways to Find Purpose as an Empty Nester as a guide.