Life as an empty-nester has looked a lot different than I imagined.
When the kids were little I watched so many women fall apart when their nest emptied. They had no life and no identity outside of their children. I determined I would NOT be one of them and set about doing everything I could to avoid that scenario.
Through the years I’ve written, taught, and generally moved in the direction of becoming “something”, having some sort of career once the kids were gone. I assumed that when the last one trotted off to college God would drop His crystal clear vision of the future into my mind and off we’d go.
But life rarely turns out as expected.
The vision, the job, the success did not come. And God was silent.
One word describes this season so well: lost.
No sense of direction, no clues, and one big, fat identity crisis.
In fact, the only asset I had was time.
It’s only been in recent months that I’ve come to realize that time is the very thing God wants to use in this season.
For the first time in my life, I’m truly available to live a life more like Jesus lived, one that can be interrupted by people and crisis and needs.
And I’ve come to realize the value of this ministry of availability in the midst of a chaotically busy world that can’t seem to slow down for anything or anybody.
When my neighbor was diagnosed with leukemia on a Friday and took his last breath five days later, I was available to sit at his bedside during the night, to offer a shoulder to cry on, and to be the hands and feet of anything his family needed done.
When my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and her life fell apart in a million other ways, I was available to home school her children a couple of days a week.
When my uncle, who has no wife or children, was told his health was failing and he didn’t have much longer to live, I was available to clean his house, to take him out for lunch, to listen to his fears, to pray with him, to laugh together, and to love him like a daughter would.
When the five year old next door gets home from school in the afternoons and wants to “hang out” with me, I’m available to listen about her school day and to her feelings about losing the family dog.
When my daughter calls to vent about college, I have time to listen. And when she comes home for the weekend I can drop everything to spend time with her.
When my husband wants to go hiking or to take a spontaneous trip, I’m available to go.
When the young moms call to ask for advice about marriage, parenting, and homeschooling, I can listen and offer encouragement.
In this season of availability I can truly be the ears of Jesus, the mouth of Jesus, the hands and feet of Jesus, and the love of Jesus to those around me.
For now, my calling is to simply be available.
In what ways are you making yourself available to others and to God?