Your son or daughter just walked across the stage of his high school and your heart brimmed with joy, pride and tears. Your baby is launching out into the real world. Their world is about to change, but, then, so is yours. The house will be empty for the first time in a couple decades or maybe just more empty.
For me, my youngest is graduating homeschooling and leaving for Liberty University in the fall. And, it is not two decades of child-rearing for me, but rather, three. Thirty years of always having a child in the house is coming to a close.
Or, possibly, your company just dissolved and you are without a job for the first time in many years. Fear and trepidation engulf you as the pile of bills grow on the desk in the corner.
Fear: it happens to the best of the best of the best, the strongest, and the oldest. Fear basically tackles all of us at one time or another. However, there is healthy fear and unhealthy fear. Healthy fear keeps us safe from harm when it should.
For instance, when you are walking close to a cliff and healthy fear keeps you from walking too close to the edge, lest you lose your footing, and plunge headlong into a precipice. That's healthy fear: it protects, warns, and makes safety a priority.
On the other hand, fear that paralyzes and keeps us from being our best is not healthy, but I am happy to say: fear can be overcome. Sometimes one must simply launch out in order to move on to the next season for them. Just as our graduates must launch, so must their parents.
Moving on to an empty or emptier nest may not seem inviting, but moving on is natural and it is right. Some may be experiencing change right now, and change is one thing in life that is inevitable and constant. Moving with change or progress, if you will, may be the healthiest move one can make.
I remember a day in my life when change was scary, but not as scary as staying where I was. Change was uncomfortable,to say the least, but now that "20/20 hindsight" that we all know too well, says: change was good.
Here is an excerpt from "A Gentle Thunder" by Max Lucado entitled "Cave People":
"Long ago, or maybe not so long ago, there was a tribe in a dark, cold cavern.
"The cave dwellers would huddle together and cry against the chill. Loud and long they wailed. It was all they did. It was all they knew to do. The sounds in the cave were mournful, but the people didn't know it, for they had never known joy. The spirit in the cave was death, but the people didn't know it, for they had never known life.
"But then, one day, they heard a different voice. 'I have heard your cries,' it announced. 'I have felt your chill and seen your darkness. I have come to help.'
"The cave people grew quiet. They had never heard this voice. Hope sounded strange to their ears. "How can we know you have come to help?"
"'Trust me,' he answered. 'I have what you need.'
"The cave people peered through the darkness at the figure of the stranger. He was stacking something, then stooping and stacking more.
"'What are you doing?' one cried, nervous.
"The stranger didn't answer.
"'What are you making?' one shouted even louder.
"Still no response.
"'Tell us!' demanded a third.
"The visitor stood and spoke in the direction of the voices. 'I have what you need.' With that he turned to the pile at his feet and lit it. Wood ignited, flames erupted, and light filled the cavern.
"The cave people turned away in fear. 'Put it out!' they cried. 'It hurts to see it.'
"'Light always hurts before it helps,' he answered. 'Step closer. The pain will soon pass.'
"'Not I,' declared a voice.
"'Nor I,' agreed a second.
"'Only a fool would risk exposing his eyes to such light.'
"The stranger stood next to the fire. 'Would you prefer the darkness? Would you prefer the cold? Don't consult your fears. Take a step of faith.'
"For a long time no one spoke. The people hovered in groups covering their eyes. The fire builder stood next to the fire. 'It's warm here,' he invited.
"'He's right,' one from behind him announced. 'It's warmer.' The stranger turned and saw a figure slowly stepping toward the fire. 'I can open my eyes now,' she proclaimed. 'I can see.'
"'Come closer,' invited the fire builder.
"She did. She stepped into the ring of light. 'It's so warm!' She extended her hands and sighed as her chill began to pass.
"'Come, everyone! Feel the warmth,' she invited.
"'Silence, woman!' cried one of the cave dwellers. 'Dare you lead us into your folly? Leave us. Leave us and take your light with you.'
"She turned to the stranger. 'Why won't they come?"
"'They choose the chill, for though it's cold, it's what they know. They'd rather be cold than change.'
"'And live in the dark?'
"'And live in the dark.'
"The now-warm woman stood silent. Looking first at the dark, then at the man.
"'Will you leave the fire?' he asked.
"She paused, then answered, 'I cannot. I cannot bear the cold.' Then she spoke again. 'But nor can I bear the thought of my people in darkness.'
"'You don't have to,' he responded, reaching into the fire and removing a stick. 'Carry this to your people. Tell them the light is here, and the light is warm. Tell them the light is for all who desire it.'
"And so she took the small flame and stepped into the shadows."
Launching out may seem scary to your graduates. It may seem scary to you parents of the graduates. Launching out is difficult for those moving locations, changing jobs, choosing healthy over unhealthy in relationships, but even as birth pains are forgotten the moment a baby enters our lives, so will be the birth pangs of change.
There is a world that needs us to launch out in the unknown from time to time and to allow change, and to leave the security of the known and enter the misty darkness of the unknown and carry light to a dark world. Life is a book and a book has many chapters. For me, the chapter of child-rearing is coming to a close. I chose to welcome it and embrace change and I am excited to see what the next chapter may hold.
How about you? Are you embracing change? Or, are you tenaciously clinging to the past and wishing for the "good ol' days?" Let go, and step toward Christ, your Light, and light your torch and go out into a dark world and spread His Light through your life to a world that needs Him and, thus, needs you.
- Kimberly Morgan, MA is a wife, mom, and grief counselor. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter: @kimmorgan63