Are you wondering how to start finding purpose as an empty nester? Your nest may now be empty or about to be soon when your children complete high school. Or you might even still have a partial or full nest with young adults who will need to live with you for a while, but are starting to be more independent.
In any of these situations, it remains true that a new season has come. And you may be asking how do you find yourself after empty nest begins when your role in your children’s lives is changing. Or you could have been on this path for a while now, maybe even feeling a sense of sadness and loss, still asking yourself, “Does empty nest get better?”
The world may tell you that reinventing yourself after empty nest is the solution to uncertainty or empty nest syndrome. But reinventing means changing something so that it seems like something new. The problem with that idea is that God made you perfectly just the way you are and you don’t need to be changed to be like something different than you are.
The truth is that you must connect with who God made you to be as a person–not related to motherhood or any other role–and out of embracing that understanding, you can reinvent your life–not yourself–to pursue the meaning and purpose God intends for you.
Why Finding Purpose After Empty Nest Is a Priority
If you found your primary identity as a woman in your role as a mother, it’s natural that you can feel a sense of grief from the loss of that significant responsibility.
Your children will always hold that special place in your heart, but if there is nothing else that you also hold in your heart as purposeful to focus your attention, time and energy on during this season, your longings will remain on what has passed, rather than on new hope for the future.
Finding hobbies can be a way to find some happiness as an empty nester. They can be a pleasing way to pass your time, but the pleasant feelings likely won’t be sustained when you’re not engaging in them or when troubles come.
Serving by volunteering is also a valuable and meaningful way to spend your time. However, though you will find satisfaction and even spiritual significance in helping others, if the service isn’t something you feel divinely called to, you will still lack some contentment with your contribution to the world.
Starting some kind of business that uses your skills or teaches new ones can help to fill your time and bring some level of feeling useful and serving others. But work that isn’t a calling on your life can also just leave you only feeling partially fulfilled because though you may be engaged physically and mentally, your spiritual and emotional being may be left disengaged.
Enjoyment of hobbies, noble service to others, and finding work to fill your time can’t match the divine call of motherhood as a steward over shaping another’s life for the glory of God. Only something else that is a divine call on your life can fill that void.
There is a hope inside of you, a longing to fulfill another divine call–this is often a big part of the void you feel. And if that hope, that calling, is not discovered and pursued, your heart will not feel that spark of life that God longs for you to find in His purposes.
In addition, not finding the purpose God has for you in this next season of life will cause you to miss out on touching the lives of all those you are meant to impact in addition to your children for God’s glory.
3 Ways Lack of Purpose Affects Your Life
If you remain in a state of feeling purposeless after empty nest begins, the effects on your life can truly make your heart sick. You might find yourself stuck…
- Wondering and wandering in uncertainty, leaving life to chance without clear direction, not bearing fruit you were meant to produce.
- Seeing yourself with low self-worth, comparing yourself to others, feeling like you have nothing special to contribute to the world.
- Feeling unfulfilled, just going through the motions of life, finding yourself frustrated, empty, and maybe even becoming depressed.
And the solution to getting unstuck and no longer letting these emotions be all consuming is following these steps of how to find purpose as an empty nester.
5 Steps to Finding Purpose as an Empty Nester
You should look at your role as a mother as honorable and a blessing. You served and still serve a significant purpose before God in loving and guiding your children, even as the way you do so changes over time.
And though it has been your focus over a long period of time, it is not the only role the Lord has created you for to impact His Kingdom or this world. In fact, as you discover your next purpose in this new season, it is a powerful example to your children of your faithfulness in following God’s will and plan for your life.
So look to the past and know that God is pleased with you fulfilling your call as a steward over your children. But also look to the future and know that God will also be pleased when you walk on the path of fulfilling your call as a steward over His next purpose for you.
You have shaped your children and now the time has come for you to shape your future. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
Below are 5 steps from my Look© process that you can take for finding purpose as an empty nester:
1 – Look up to God – Prayerfully seek and observe what God is speaking to you, where He is at work in your life, and how He is calling you to serve others. Sense and observe how God communicates with you within your mind, heart and spirit, as well as through external signs, people, or experiences. Draw closer to Him in prayer and worship and take steps to grow more in the heart of God and character of Christ, as well as in sensing the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As your intimacy with God grows, so will your ability to gain more clarity from Him as He moves in your life.
2 – Look within yourself – Explore your spiritual gifts, natural strengths, and personality to understand who God designed you to be. Also identify your passions and the dreams God’s planting in your heart, and significant life experiences that can be clues to how you’re called to impact lives. Knowing your design will give clues to what you may be called to do. Even if don’t know your exact calling, you can start to engage your passions and use your gifts and strengths in small ways and it will help to give more clues, as well as enable you to feel more energy and fulfillment.
3 – Look around you – Find out the passions that light you up and the burdens that weigh on your heart from the world around you. This will help you to gain more clarity on where or how you’re drawn to make an impact. Also reflect on how you’ve helped people in the past and who usually comes to you and for what type of support. Even think back to childhood as the patterns of purpose are often recognizable throughout your life, even if you aren’t aware of it at times.
4 – Look for opportunities – As you explore your passions and the burdens that tend to be on your heart, find opportunities to participate and volunteer. Experiment, take a few small steps, and learn what seems to be a fit and what doesn’t. You may even meet people who may open doors for you or show you ways to serve you never have thought about.
5 – Look for input – Feedback from others whose lives you’ve touched or even who have observed you in your life can be confirmation of how you are naturally equipped to serve. If you take the time to ask, you may find out what others see in you that is unique or a strength that you haven’t seen in yourself.
More Ways to Pursue Purposeful Living
While you take these steps to start to explore clues to discover the specific purpose, or calling, God has on your life, you should also find purpose in God in your day to day life.
- Be proactive to seek and nurture Christian friendship to enrich your life and other supportive relationships for help as you pursue purpose
- Identify meaningful new ways that God is leading you to be a support, model, and inspiration to your adult children
- Connect with your spouse in creative ways to discover who you are together as a couple now that you have more breathing room
- Set new goals or rekindle your fire around activities you left behind all these years of caring for your family and household
- Honor your body as God’s temple and the vehicle to carry out your calling by renewing your health and energy for this next season
- Be intentional to create moments of peace, joy and passion in your life on your own or with others
- Implement things that will bring some desired variety or even desired consistency to your life
Embrace and be grateful for the additional space in your life to explore what God and His creation can bless your life with if you are open to change.
In addition, it’s important to work on renewing your mind so that you will start to more closely align with God’s will and truth in your life, as this is critical to your level of contentment, peace and joy, as well as effectively pursuing purpose.
Partner with God and enjoy the journey with your Creator to explore the depth and breadth of all He has made you to be and all He has made you to do. This season of transition does not have to be a time of despair and purposelessness.
Though you may feel a sense of sadness as your relationship with your children changes, you can embrace your new role as a model and friend to your sons and daughters, and you can find hope in finding new purpose as an empty nester to fill your heart and fulfill a new divine call in your life.
If you need support on your path of finding purpose as an empty nester, in pursuing your God-given purpose in this next season, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary ‘From Tired to Inspired’ Strategy Session.
Together we’ll assess where you are now in your path of discovering and walking in your purpose and identify personalized next steps that will help you to move forward on your journey to live with more passion and confidence and make the impact in the world you were born to make.