Have you ever toured a college campus during the summer and thought “it does nothing for me”? Maybe you find that “it seems so cold”; only to go later when school is in session and have a totally different perspective? Or maybe you drove by a church with an empty parking lot and had one opinion, only to drive by on a Sunday morning and have a completely different feeling? It’s not the buildings that make a place feel special. Rather, it’s the people, and more specifically, the relationships.
Sure, we can buy the most expensive house and fill it with the finest of furnishings, but ultimately, it’s just a building with things. It has no emotional attachment without family and friends to fill it with. Look at a ghost town. When the people left, it became nothing but a cold place. The only life that is brought to it is when someone visits it and imagines what it must have been like when it was filled with people, friendships and love.
When our kids grow up and move away, we begin to feel alone in what seems like a massive house. We begin to remember the times when the house was filled with love and laughter. We even begin to miss the arguments that seemed important at the time, but now seem only relevant in our memory.
My wife and I are going through this now. We are preparing to become empty nesters in the next few weeks (compounded with long-time friends moving away), and we are already feeling the void that will be left behind by them.
‘And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 4:19
The good news is that we serve an awesome God who has filled our lives with the love of family and friends. Sure, kids move out and friends move away, but God always connects us to others we can gather, live and love life with. As my wife and I go through these changing times, we are grateful for the new friendships God has blessed us with. Yes, we still feel a bit of loneliness as our last kid prepares to go away to college, and as long-time friends move away to begin a new chapter, but we are touched by the love God has surrounded us with.
The heartaches are comforted by the anticipation of the opportunities ahead. It’s a chance for my wife and I to get reacquainted and find new adventures that we can share together. It even allows us to be Bob and Nora again, instead of “Justin’s, Micah’s, or Leighton’s mom and dad”.
We look forward to having a different impact on kid’s lives, and seeing how God will choose to use us next. Without a doubt, I look forward to seeing how God chooses to use my kids to impact His kingdom. And although my house may appear emptier than in the past, the love of my wife, friends, and the frequent calls and visits from our kids, just shows me how much love God has placed in my life, and the comfort it brings.