Yesterday morning, while watching a video with a large group of women, I was surprised to find that I had tears running down my face. Luckily, one of my dear ones sitting behind me noticed my tears and kindly and quietly handed me a tissue. Have you ever had the experience when you hear something that resonates with you so deeply…that feels so TRUE…that it literally takes your breath away for a moment?
This isn’t the first time I’ve had that experience while listening to Beth Moore teach on a video screen. I started her newest study yesterday and, as always, felt like I was reconnecting with a well-loved old friend. Beth inspires me with her joy in the Lord and her passion for His Word and I am grateful for her impact in my life.
To make a long story shorter (I seldom say anything “short,”) Beth was talking about loss yesterday. She was talking about seasons of life where we get comfortable; we like our activities, our group of closest confidantes, our daily routine. We know who we are and what to do. And then something happens that blows it up and leaves a gaping hole. The Greek word was paroxusmos. And blowing stuff up or being near an explosion can hurt like hell.
For the past 2 decades, my life has largely been characterized by being Alex and Brooke’s mom and by serving in ministry and leadership at our church. This is what I did every day, but it was also who I was to a large degree. Thankfully, God pushed me out of my comfort zone once before several years ago, and my ministry at the Lamb Center became the third leg of that tripod. Through a series of circumstances, both wonderful and difficult, 2 of those 3 came to an abrupt end this summer. And I’m finding myself feeling a little wobbly as a result.
Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW full well that I am still Alex and Brooke’s mom and I always will be. I talk (ok, text) with them both frequently and I look forward to them coming home for Christmas and summer breaks. But honestly, it is just different, isn’t it?
See if this makes sense: the relationship I have with them as individuals continues and hopefully deepens and grows, but the sense of this being “what I do” is irrevocably altered. For years, being their mom and all that entailed was my purpose, my job, and my focus. It was how I ordered my days and chose my activities. I went on mission trips with the student ministry to serve with my girls and to teach them that they are blessed to bless others. Because of their passion for theater, I was the head Drama Mama and threw myself wholeheartedly into the work of the drama department. I scheduled my days to be there when they got home to hear all about their day at school or their rehearsal. I bought food for their friends and invested in their lives too, so that our house often became the destination gathering place. I loved “my job.”
I’m rambling a bit today, but let me stop for a moment and say that I’m not entirely sure that this singular focus is always completely healthy (fodder for another post perhaps,) but I know it is not unique to me. While I tried to balance my focus by serving in various aspects of ministry, being mom was still my primary calling. The online parent groups in which I participate are talking about this, in addition to my group of women friends. People are hurting. The overwhelming response I got from my last post on the empty nest was testament to the fact that people are not quite sure how to deal with this transition and others like it. So I keep writing about it, in hopes that my out-loud processing will bless someone else and keep the conversation going. My therapy, if you will...
So, back to the moment of connection that I experienced in yesterday’s video. Beth gave me some new language yesterday that I have been thinking about ever since. She suggested that God will help us fill the holes left behind in seasons of loss and change by doing a “Remix.” I looked up the word Remix online and a couple of the definitions really struck a chord with me (excuse the pun:)
- to use some of the same materials, allowing the song to reach a different audience
- to alter a song for artistic purposes
- to provide additional versions of a song for use as bonus tracks
Don’t you love that picture, hurting empty nest mamas? Our lives are being remixed because God has a new audience in mind for us. I suggested the metaphor of the empty canvas the other day and I love that this idea of a Remix takes that a little deeper. God is working on a new masterpiece and we have the privilege of being co-creators. We are not done yet! Those same notes God used to help us guide our children into adulthood will now be used to sing a slightly different song for a new audience. Carefully crafted notes of unconditional love, encouragement, compassion, patience, humor, organization, multi-tasking, and creativity are never wasted. Those were hard earned skills learned in the trenches of parenting and now we have the opportunity to use them in a new and different way; new jobs, new volunteer opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, new relationships. I’m not completely clear just how that will look, but I’m getting more and more excited by the prospects. I am starting to look forward to the Bonus Tracks, how about you?
“Sing to Him a new song. Play well with loud sounds of joy.” Psalm 33:3