Blessings in a Not-So-Empty Nest (by guest Ellen C. Maze)
March 13, 2020
Boarding an adult child requires money, patience, and most of all, prayer. I never feared the Empty Nest Syndrome. Don’t get me wrong; I love my daughter with all my heart and raising her into a strong woman of God was my number one passion. That said, I looked forward with great anticipation to the day when God’s pat on the head would be my child turned loose, standing on her own two feet. I eagerly awaited the assurance of feeling my daughter was safe and happy in her independent life.
In September 2019, God’s pat on the head came when my daughter moved into her own apartment. I danced and sang and praised the Lord, thanking Him for my Empty Nest. I found myself making plans for all of the marvelous things I would do: reclaim the guest room, my art studio, and our back bathroom. Oh, what a glorious feeling!
That lasted 4 days.
Monday, she moved out and Friday the same week, my husband’s adult son moved in. He had called earlier in the week to inform us he had nowhere to live. I knew in a flash this was God’s doing. I wondered what God had in mind. What was His plan in all of this?
Does that mean I jumped for joy that this troubled son was moving in? No, I complained in the passive-aggressive way lovers of God do: whining under my breath while ending every sentiment with, “but Your will be done, not mine, Father!”
Junior was 25, my husband’s only son and the youngest child from a previous marriage. He lived with his mother, but in our first year of marriage, when Junior was 19, he lived with us for six months to “get straight.” Sadly, he never did and ended up living as a transient over the next three years. Junior contacted my husband only when he found himself in jail or in the ER. My husband kept the lines of communication open with fatherly love and stern reprimands. Each time, however, the boy returned to the muck and we wouldn’t hear from him for months.
Now in September 2019, Junior needed a place to live. He expressed a new desire to straighten up, this time for good. Before he arrived, my husband and I aligned strategies to present a unified and godly front. Junior arrived with no money, no car, and no job. The totality of his belongings fit into a black plastic lawn bag.
We sat him down and discussed sensible rules. No drugs. Absolutely none. We offered him a life track – free food and board, a full-time job, and a way to get his GED. We even loaned him our extra car. Ironically, this was the same car he had decimated at age 21 when we gave it to him and his then-pregnant girlfriend. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.
As a side note, Junior was frequently blasphemous and negative in his sentiments about God and Christians. In spite of that, God gave my husband and I regular opportunities to verbally expound on His glory and providence in the way He was handling things in Junior’s life. Although Junior doesn’t believe in God, he doesn’t realize that God still believes in Him. To be specific, let me count some of the ways God has shown His love towards Junior.
First , Junior had no job and no high school diploma. One of my husband’s coworkers agreed to hire him full-time at $12/hr including benefits. Second, Junior had no birth certificate. God worked it out for us to acquire one for him from his home state of Texas. Third, God enabled Junior to have a clean drug test in spite of the fact he had smoked pot before his homelessness. There’s more but you get the idea. Within a week of moving in, Junior was ready to start over.
The familiar passage of Jeremiah 29:11 echoed a sweet note in my ear. “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.”
Junior is a constant reminder that none of “this” is about me. Our house, our financial ability to support him, our health, my ability to work from home—all of this has been gifted to me by God to use for His purposes. When God says, “I know the plans I have for you,” He’s talking about Junior AND me AND my husband AND each of you. These plans intersect for all of us.
So how does this story end? Well, I’m still waiting to reclaim my guest room, art studio, and back bathroom. Junior is still here. I confess his sometimes annoying presence blesses my walk with Jesus. He is working but he hasn’t gotten his GED yet. I am glad to say Junior is off drugs but he hasn’t saved a penny. God is working in his life. I can see it.
My prayer is that I am a blessing every day to him in some way until God accomplishes the purpose He has for Junior. In the meantime, when Junior needs to talk, I’m here. I plant seeds of Truth that God can cause to grow in His timing, in His way.
In conclusion, this is my prayer for each of us – that we may all fulfill the purpose God intended for each one of us from the beginning of the world. As we seek to do so, may we live our lives and do all things as if we are doing it for Jesus. Amen.
Ellen C. Maze (Sallas) is the Editorial Director of Little Roni Publishers (a traditional indie publisher), as well as founder of The Author’s Mentor (a mentoring and book design company for self-published authors). Ellen is a widely-sought keynote speaker for book clubs, schools, writer’s guilds, conferences, and education organizations all over the south, including Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. Ellen writes Award-Winning Christian Thrillers under the pen name Ellen C. Maze, using allegory to combine spiritual warfare with vampire mythology. Check out her novels at www.ellencmaze.com.