Perspective & Grace: the Afternoon of Life as an Empty Nester

Reflections from The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

God’s Faithfulness in My Afternoon of Life

I began to dread the day that my kids would leave before Matty was even born. The girls and I were watching the old Father of the Bride and I began to cry my eyes out because some day these beautiful little girls would not live with me any more!  If you are thinking that I’m crazy — I won’t disagree! At the same time I was also anxious to see what God was going to do with my precious little ones. I didn’t know the Lord until I was 23 years old but they had heard of His greatness since they were born.

Bekah was our first to be engaged and though I was very happy for her (I think the world of Tom), I cried a lot over the next few months as they prepared to be married. The first two weeks after she left were kind of tough for me — she wasn’t there in the morning or anytime for that matter, she was on her honeymoon. After that, our Father helped me to focus on and expand my ministry. Rather than dwelling on her absence, I quickly became occupied with a different kind of Kingdom work and life returned to “normal”. What my friend, Marnie Carlson, had told me was true, “the worst part was dreading the day that they would leave.” Then it was time for the Lord to really work on me — Bekah and Tom moved out of state. That was difficult; however, once again my Father’s work kept me busy, so busy that I had to remind myself to call my precious daughter!

Not too long after that we started the whole process over again with Lydia, and very shortly after that, Matty (two weddings in one year keeps a girl very busy!). I cried less with each one because though I knew that I would miss them, God had shown me it would be good. Rather than losing kids I got new ones in the form of sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law and now a granddaughter! Like my friend, Chris Barriere’s mom told her, “when they leave they come back with more!” Then, not long ago, my last “baby” left our home and at about that same time we found out that Tom and Bekah are moving out of state again, and that we would be getting a new grandbaby — God is very gracious!

Another way that our amazing Father comforted me was to remind me that He suffered much worse than I did. He caused me to remember that He sent His Son away after being with Him always and forever. In addition to not being with His Son anymore, He sent Jesus to suffer from the moment that He was born as a man and ultimately to be ridiculed, tortured, and die a horrible death.

I was asked to read and write about chapters four and five of The Afternoon of Life. They weren’t difficult chapters for me to read in that my husband lead me to “butt out” long before our kids were married. I would have been that mom who stuck her “camel’s”nose in the “ tent,” as Matt calls it and I would have considered this helping my kids. One of my kids has thanked me for giving recommendations and not getting upset if they don’t act on them. I am thankful for his instruction! But again, my husband lead me to do this in their teen years for most things so when they left it wasn’t something new for me.

 I am very thankful to say that I am immensely happy with the way my kids turned out as well as my kids-in-law. Due to the enormous grace of God, each of them loves Him and serves Him with zeal. They are sinners, just like their folks, but He chooses to continue to show each of us His incredible love!

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