This morning I spoke with a mom whose daughter and family will be leaving soon to be missionaries in Haiti. I spoke with her a couple of months ago. She couldn’t talk about it without tears. Today she spoke without tears, but I felt her heart was still bleeding for them. She said what so many of moms on the brink of releasing kids feel—“There will a hole in my heart.”
I have felt this very same thing. Last winter/spring I was an empty nester for the first time. After many tears, agony, self-analyzing, and prayer, I realized my issue was simply that I missed my girls. I had a hole in my heart. It was a mom-shaped hole that could only be filled with my girls—at least at that time.
This time of year many of us will be releasing our kids—to kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, maybe even the mission field. When the object of our parenting leaves (even for half a day), there is a hole and it hurts. I remember when Kerry, our youngest, went to half-day kindergarten. I cried every day for a week. She loved school, but the passage of that season of her life made me sad. After the first week, I started to adjust and fill my morning with things I couldn’t do before. It was also a new season for me. I enjoyed it.
In three weeks we will move Katie to graduate school in Indiana. (She will be a teaching assistant as well.) Not nearly as far away as Haiti, but further than she’s lived before. No more coming home on whim for the weekend. We are thrilled for her. She’s excited and a bit nervous too. I’m anticipating tears on my way home. I know I’ll miss her like crazy, especially since she lived at home this summer. I’ve been praying, praying, praying for her. God opened the doors for her to go and we’re so excited for what He has for her next.
I don’t have deep insights for what comes next. I think the best and only thing we (and our kids) can do is JUMP! Jump in and start swimming and let God provide strength. Jump in to the next adventure God has for us. Katie is already receiving emails from her professor about what she needs to do as soon as she arrives on campus. On her first Monday morning she will jump into her new responsibilities and studies. That same Monday my class and radio tour start as well. And I will continue to press into God in prayer.
I don’t know how else to live. I only know this is where God is calling my family and me. Yes, we need time to grieve the passing of what was and accept the next season. That time is different for each of us. But I want what God wants for my family and me.
The thing is, given a choice, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am thrilled all our girls are following what God put in their hearts. I’m thrilled for the opportunities God gives me and for a cheerleader of a husband to support us all. Our adventures make us more like the person God planned for us to be. They also make our times together richer.
I don’t have the antidote for the hole that will soon be in my heart and yours. I plan on hanging on tight to God’s hand and jumping in. Will you join me? I’d love to hear about your new season!
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.