We took our last child to college this week and came home to an empty house. Oh sure, the bedroom was still intact yet empty and tidy, a strange thing in and of itself. That first evening alone was weird, we could eat whatever we felt like or go wherever we wanted. We could even go to bed at whatever time we desired! After 3 decades of parenting, we were finally on our own and at a complete loss.
So what did we do? We were so exhausted from the college move that we ordered our favorite kind of pizza and ate it while lounging on the sofa, watching the Cubs on TV. Next we decided we’d go to bed at the hour our folks do, before 10. They, too, are early risers.
For me, the part-time worker and full-time parent in the family, I found myself wandering around the next day without focus. I had mid-day plans to take a friend to an appointment but I wondered the whole time what my college kid was doing, no longer aware of my child’s schedule, plans, needs… So I chose to fast, focusing on God and lifting others up to Him through prayer. A short mid-day fast where I could ask Him what He had next for me. Even then I felt so unfocused.
What happened next amazed me – I heard Him clearly. He told me He had waited for me to work through the emotions of parental letting go before bringing the idea of the fast to mind, seeking to comfort me. He pointed out the sign He provided the day before, a sign for my child as well as for me. The sunshine of the day had bounced off a CD of her music and created a rainbow, directly over her head. I will continue watching over her, I felt God say.
I realize that parenting has defined me far more than any other role in my life. Now that I’m no longer needed as much by my kids, my plan was to spend more time with my spouse. Now I see that I can let Christ define me in whatever comes next. We will walk together even closer, hand-in-hand, He assures me. Yes, all three of us.
P.S. What is God teaching you at this point in your life?