Here comes the school bus! I can see the flash of yellow through the trees before it makes the turn. It rumbles down the street with brakes screeching; but this year, the bus doesn’t stop here. It keeps going, taking years of my life along with it. As I sip coffee in my too-quiet kitchen, I’m reminded that my children are no longer “children.” I’ve grown accustomed to being needed and consulted (practically indispensable!)–a daily part of their daily lives, day after day. But not today.
For years I’ve worn motherhood like a badge that proves my identity and purpose. Then one day, I pack up my 18-year investment and deposit it in a dorm room, hoping for a return on investment or, at the very least, safekeeping. Leaving campus, as my hands grasp the steering wheel, my heart must let go. This is the moment I trade “hands-on” mothering for “hands-off” mentoring and my GPS doesn’t tell me how to navigate this uncharted road.
As I approach a stop sign, I realize that my journey forward begins by stopping. So I pause to become still before God, to acknowledge His presence, and it dawns on me that an empty nest is not an empty “next.” After spending years spinning my wheels to take care of everyone else, I thrill to the idea that my own soul matters.
I gain perspective as I focus on GOD and stay AMAZED, mindful that He loves me and my future is hope-filled. Because my new “next” draws me to stay, I give myself the luxury of lingering in one place just a little longer, of making time for quiet reflection, of stopping to savor a moment… this very moment.
Staying is not easy but I’m learning its importance. I recall watching a mom instruct her preschool children to “stay put” by simply placing their hands on a chair; not one of them took a step. When I asked, “How did you do that?” she replied, “I just told them to stay.” A familiar lesson that I need to relearn: “Keep your hand on the chair.” So I take a deep breath as I look up to God and listen up for His direction.
Over time, my narrow lens widens and I have a new awareness of the people God has placed in my life to “stay” alongside me. My hand is not the only one on the chair! Now is the time to reach out and stay CONNECTED to others. I excitedly schedule lunch dates with old friends, take time to visit extended family and come alongside an exhausted new mom. I begin to receive each new day as a gift and see the people still around me as a treasure.
Yes, I will consider each day as an invitation to stay: Stay intentional. Stay available. Stay realistic. Stay faithful. Stay attentive. Stay in God’s Word.
Somehow, in the mystery of God’s timing, by practicing staying put I have actually moved forward–leaving behind the traffic jams of daily nurture and accelerating into open roads of lifelong adventure. My memories may be stirred, but my soul is settled. Let the bus roll on.
Kay originally wrote this as a guest post for Lisa Meiner’s blog.