“Experts define empty nest syndrome as a collection of symptoms including sadness, loneliness and/or grief experienced by parents whose children come of age and leave home. Unfortunately, because the empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis, there are few statistics on how many people are affected by it.” www.first30days.com
I feel like Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2:11) and I have been taking a very long walk together these past couple of months. As I have been preparing for several speaking engagements-both based on Hannah’s life-I’ve noticed several new things about Hannah, unnoticed up to this point. One being that Hannah, much like myself, must have experienced the “empty nest” when she left Samuel at the temple with Eli. If I could, I would ask Hannah:
How did you handle leaving your little promise at the temple? What was your first thought when you walked out of the temple? What were the first 30 days like after leaving Samuel? Did you busy yourself? Did you weep for days? Did you think of him constantly? Did Peninnah still chide you? harass you? annoy you? Did Elkanah say or do anything that possibly made the situation better? worse? What advice would you have, Hannah, for mothers who may be experiencing the same agonizing “separation anxiety?”
And, I remind myself, Hannah didn’t have email. Webcams. The postal service. IPhones. Cellphones. Accessible transportation. How did Hannah do it?
My son and I were talking the other day about my forthcoming empty nest. I told him that I bet I have been asked a hundred times or more, “What are you going to do next year?” He said, “Well, what do you say, Mom?” I said, “Simply. . . I don’t know. I’m not living in next year yet. I’ll let you know when it gets here.” He smiled.
One dominant theme keeps running through my heart and mind. . . I need to find new feathers for my empty nest. Years ago, I told my children to write down 100 things they wanted to do in their lifetime. So, now, I am compiling a new list. . . “100 New Feathers for My Empty Nest.” Paula Scardamalia writes, “When your house gets uncomfortably silent, dive into an activity you always wished you had time to do. Pursue creative interests like playing the piano, repairing clocks, ballroom dancing or learning a foreign language. Think of this (the empty nest) as an opportunity to reclaim your passions or discover new ones. You may also want to use this time to volunteer, as it allows you to fulfill your need to help others.”
So, here are a few “new feathers” I have been thinking about: Pilates Reformer sessions to regain my physical strength/agility, Italian cooking lessons, travel to Tuscany to take Italian cooking lessons (smile), writing more books, expanding my speaking/teaching ministry. . . to name a few.
AND, last but not least, Paula Scardamalia says, “With many Americans living until 80 or beyond, an empty nest at 50 or even older probably means spending as much time as a couple as within a family unit. Spend the first 30 days of your empty nest improving this relationship. Imagine your dating again – talk, joke, go on dates and spend more time being intimate. Rediscover the spark that got you two together in the first place.” Now, the empty nest doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Okay, will you take the “100 New Feathers for my Empty Nest” challenge with me? PLEASE share your “new feathers” with me or perhaps, if you are not facing the empty nest, but another challenge that requires facing a change. . . how you faced the challenge to change.
I bet Hannah started making Samuel’s new little coat (1 Samuel 2:18-21). And, God gave her more children. God has new work for you and I, as well, and new opportunities! For more encouragement, read Paula Scardamalia’s entire article at http://www.first30days.com/your-empty-nest.