If you’re a reader, you know the feeling you get when you are in the middle of a really good book – one you just can’t put down. You eagerly read each word, turning the page to see what happens to the main characters. One chapter folds into the next, leading you through a tale of love or perhaps mystery. You lose concept of time as you become heavily invested in what will happen next.
And then before you know it, the book comes to an end. Perhaps you take some time to think about the entirety of what you have just read, the way the characters developed and changed in the novel. You replay some of the scenes over in your head, vividly seeing the characters you’ve created in your mind’s eyes. And maybe you’re a little sad when the book ends because you want more – what happens to the hero after the rescue? What happened to the strong willed child or the mother who sacrificed so much?
And that’s where I find myself today, only it’s the closing of the second book in the series chronicling my life. I see life divided into segments, not just as chapters in one book but as separate books – a series of sequels recounting a life. For me, “The Life of a Child” would contain chapters of my life up until I got married. The sequel entitled “Milestones and Miscues” would follow, narrating the highs and lows of marriage and parenting, telling stories of how two became three and then four.
So I don’t feel like a chapter of life has come to a close – I feel like a whole book has been written and read, and is now put on the shelf to be brought out occasionally and reread, through the memories in my mind. It’s a hard book to put down because I’ve had such a wonderful life. I’m not bragging – it’s not always been easy and I surely haven’t always done the right thing. Some chapters were more easily written and enjoyed, while others were much harder. But as I close the book and reflect on the time I have spent with my husband raising our children I feel abundantly blessed.
So I have a book in front of me that is now over, one that I do not want to end. I cautiously open up the next volume, not sure of what words will be written.
But I know this – Jesus has been my friend throughout and has always been there with me, through the milestones and the miscues. And I trust God has a plan for me, even though I don’t know what it is today. So I’ll adjust, sending care packages to foreign places and cooking when my children come home for a visit. I will focus more on my husband and less on PTO meetings and high school drama. I’ll find new friends in new places and strengthen the relationships I have.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
So to all my empty nesting friends, it’s OK to grieve that book coming to an end. It’s OK to be a little nervous about the sequel. But know this – Jesus is always with you, right by your side no matter what chapter you are writing.
So today I’ll begin writing the next book in the series of my life, filling the blank pages, creating chapter after chapter with Jesus leading the way.