Life is funny, huh? Last week’s episode was titled “You Can Do Hard Things.” And it was a message I had been working on for a while and I had it recorded a couple of weeks ago and slated for it to come out last week. So, it was planned ahead of time. Isn’t that just like God to plan something ahead of time so that when the message comes to you (or in this case, even comes from you) it’s right on time?
Well, it’s definitely a message for me, right on time, because my daughter, who has been living with me for the past year, just accepted a job three hundred miles away, and the moving truck pulls out this morning. When I sold the house after Brian died and bought this new house a year ago, she moved in with me. And now she’s leaving. Ironically, the very day she got the job offer, that morning I had put a video out on social media talking to all the new empty nesters about the difficulty of that particular life-stage and how it can come with anxiety, unreasonable worry, fear, sadness, and how if left unattended it could create havoc in other areas of your life. Life is funny. Because, now, here I am going through another “empty nester” transition and doing hard things. Hard because I’ve gotten used to having someone here with me; someone to do things with; someone who loves to go eat Mexican food as much as I do; someone to laugh with and cry with; someone to come home to at the end of the day. Hard because it feels like another loss.
But to those empty nesters I said in that social media post, “I know I can help you.” And I believe it, because as a Life Coach I’ve got the tools to help deal with the emotions that come from feeling such a loss of sorts, and the grief and sadness that follows. And now I’m going to be doing this right alongside you, my new empty nester friends. One of the things that I said in the “You Can Do Hard Things” episode was that learning to do hard things expanded me. It grew me in ways I never knew I could grow. I learned so much about myself and what I’m truly made of. Stuff I didn’t even know was inside me. So, as I think about this new transition in my life with my daughter leaving, I’m kind of excited to see what else is in me; what more I can do; what more is in store.
Now, to be completely honest with you, that was NOT my first reaction. I cried. Yep. It was a totally selfish cry, because I all I could think about was how my life was about to change. Listen, she’s an amazing roommate! She grocery shops, she cooks, she takes care of my dogs, she’s amazing. And she's an amazing friend. And I had gotten used to our little routine over the past year. But truly I believe that she was here just for a season, just for the exact appointed time God had in mind for both of us, and now it’s time for something new. Again. I talked about “Something New” in Episodes 12, 13, and 14 that you might want to go check out if you haven’t already.
But here are some truths that I think are really important to settle and land on as firm foundation as we move through any life-transition.
One, God knows exactly where you should be heading in this time. He knows what’s up ahead, and He knows what’s best for you as you travel this road. In Joshua 3: 4, 5, God was leading His people telling them to follow His direction in order that they may know the way they should go, because they had not passed that way before. But He had, and He knew how to navigate them on the right path. He was asking them to trust Him, to put their full faith in believing He knew exactly where He was leading them.
And two, God knows that if you haven’t navigated this kind of life-transition before, that you might be feeling a little blind. Kind of like you’re groping in the dark, just trying to grasp onto something familiar to steady you. In Isaiah 42:16, God says, “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”
These are the things He does. God sees you, my friend, and all that you’re going through. And He marks out new paths. And as He leads you in this direction, He births something new in you, draws out the strength in you, rises up all the amazing stuff that’s in you that you didn’t even know you had. And He expands you into something greater.
I feel like this is a message that just keeps coming around again and again. And maybe that’s on purpose. In episode #5 I talked about how the Lord is asking us to live the faith-rest life; trusting and allowing Him to lead and guide us through life where He is in control of the pace and the direction - the flow of our life.
In “Something New: Part 3” Episode # 14, I talked more about finding rest for your soul. I believe this is ultimately what God wants for each of us. To find that place where our soul feels at rest – even when we’re experiencing a significant life-change. We can find rest for our souls in the midst of loss and sadness and change. It makes no sense in human understanding, I know, but it is a supernatural peace for our souls. This supernatural rest is evidence that we are right in the middle of His will – on the right road, following His direction, allowing Him to move us and grow us where He will.
Ok, back to the part where I cried when I heard my daughter was going to be moving. I realized I was scared but wasn’t really sure what I was afraid of. I mean, since Brian died, I had lived by myself and I was fine. So, what was I afraid of facing? It took me a while to figure this one out, but I believe I was afraid of having to expand more. But this makes so much sense. One thing I know in my life coaching practice is that the brain seeks to avoid pain and change. It’s our brain’s way of keeping us safe, keeping us from dying. That’s its job. But in this inevitable transition, having it dig its heels in to try to keep me in this safe cocoon of status quo circumstances is not only unhelpful, but it’s futile. It’s going to happen. We’re going to have to deal with it, and it seems my brain wants to do it kicking and screaming all the way. Ridiculous. But, that’s its job, again, to keep me safe. But now that I understand why I responded with fear, being afraid of facing change and being uncomfortable, I can logically decide that fear is not necessary and let my brain calm down. We’re not going to die.
And with that, my mind opened up to a world of possibilities and amazing things that could happen with this life-change and transition. Because life is too short to play it safe, my friend. There’s something out there that’s amazing to experience, to live, to be. So, I started thinking of all the things I truly wanted out of life. To live the ‘zoe’ life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. It’s the absolute fullness of life. It’s a life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, and blessed. The root of this word is to be fresh, strong, efficient. I like that! And not that I had not already been experiencing this kind of ‘zoe’ life, but I believe God intends for me to have so much more of it; that there’s so much more ahead. That is, if I’ll agree to trust Him to walk me in this new direction and onto the path He has set before me with faith, resting in His peace…again. And then I started thinking of who I could become. How much stronger and more abundant and full I could be, on the inside. How all of me could be expanded. To expand my heart to appreciate my full life, expand my mind to think differently and believe more radically, and to expand my spirit to love God more deeply and follow Him more closely. How I could, yet again, experience restoration of mind, body, and spirit. But in order to do this, I must be willing to face the discomfort of change, the discomfort of trying something new. Because I know on the other side of that discomfort is absolute fullness of life - ‘zoe’ life. God is holding out His hand offering this to me right now in the midst of this transition! Friend, He’s offering this to you right now, too.
I’ll end with the same encouragement I gave you last week: that there is a God who supplies the needs of His beloved. There is a God that comes alongside to give you strength to persevere, to give you direction, to give you encouragement to do hard things. Won’t you let Jesus be your source of strength and joy in all that you’re facing and all that’s ahead? With this life-change that you think is too hard, you have Someone right beside you with all the knowledge, all the expertise, and all the strength to see you through. He is your Source. And with Him, you can do hard things, too.