Reflections from the empty nest

It’s lonely when they go. Their room is empty but their stuff is still there. Done are all those crazy evening schedules that had us grabbing a fast food bite on the way or eating crockpot meals half standing up before we ran out the door in three directions. Sitting on the soccer sidelines in solidarity with other parents in every weather imaginable and cheering on one another’s kids…that’s over, too. Basketball, musicals and plays, concerts, conferences, school dances…they are all memories.

What does hindsight bring when high school is done and the kids are gone? What do I wish we had done differently? What makes my heart well up with grateful and thankful thoughts?

I am grateful for people who planted and watered our kids’ hearts and minds. People who planted seeds of faith and faithfulness and then watered them with questions, affirmations, prayer, godly wisdom and understanding. Twelve years of fostering roots that go deep and broad. Hearts and minds saturated with truth and love, justice and mercy, gratitude and forgiveness, and a deep abiding confidence that God, who is rich in mercy, loves them dearly.

Sounds a little “pie in the sky,” right? After all, we paid lots of money for a good academic education for our kids. An education that gave them individualized attention, and in-depth instruction in how God works in His world and what he wants for His Creation. We wanted them to have models of Christian discipleship to follow and a solid foundation in their growing years so they can go out and be successful and make a difference in their world, find a nice Christian spouse and raise a happy family and avoid heartache by making good choices. Now there’s a lot of good in all of that. I don’t deny thinking a lot about those things.

We have seen what the world offers our children as they leave home. It’s a world saturated with a love of self and a flaunting of sin and a perversion of love that is so sneaky and so appealing to our human desires–everyone’s desires. I think of Satan having the audacity to offer Jesus the glory of all the kingdoms of the world (Mark 4) because he knows the glories of the world are a powerful force to be reckoned with–and tempted by. Our children will be tempted. Just like us. They are being tempted.

Despite all we teach our kids about right and wrong, about God’s ways being the best way, about good and evil, our children will test the veracity of our words and way of life. And they need to do that. Some will push those boundaries with various degrees of respectfulness and some will simply plant both feet in the world and feast on its delights and glories with no realization that they have been caught in a snare that masquerades as a good life.

That is why I am grateful for the people who planted and nurtured seeds of eternal life in my children day after day while they were young. Teachers, friends’ parents, coaches, Sunday School teachers, employers, grandparents and neighbors… all human and quirky and imperfect but faithfully and wisely planting and watering. And when our children leave us and test or are tested by the temptations and glories of this earthly life, whether they are 19 or 39, those eternal seeds of life will still be within, possibly a bit choked by tares and weeds for the time, but waiting to grow again as we nurture from afar in prayer and love.

Thank you Calvin teachers, parents, coaches, and friends for all that you have invested in our kids and in one another’s kids. I look back at 15 years of our lives within this community and thank God for His goodness through you.

A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeanne Anderson

CCS Parent & Teacher

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