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Four ways to rethink your post-parenting years in light of the Great Commission.

Recently, I sat with a friend who uttered the tear-filled words, “I am no longer a mother.” She explained that her children had gone to college in different states, her nest was empty, and her heart felt saddened by the radical change. Given that most of her daily life revolved around children for almost two decades, it came as no surprise that she needed time to grieve the loss.

Many Christian women who no longer have children at home find themselves in the same place. The reassuring news is that motherhood is not a short-term commitment—it’s a lifetime covenant. Mary the mother of Jesus was present throughout his ministry and mentioned among those who witnessed his crucifixion. In fact, one of the last things Jesus did before his death was to ensure that his mother was recognized and taken care of (John 19:25–27). If Mary is our model, motherhood is not limited by age or proximity.

Although our homes or “nests” might seem empty when our children leave, the act of parenting extends well beyond the childhood years and well beyond our own walls. As we seek to reimagine our nests—especially with the holidays around the corner—we might do well to consider these four insights:

1. Think of your nest as open, not empty.

The term “empty nester” sometimes carries connotations of hollowness, hopelessness, and loss of identity. But those who have raised children and launched them into the world carry special wisdom, knowledge, and grace. We are full, not empty, and the hard-won wisdom of our years is a tool that God can use as we evangelize and disciple those around us. As the writer of Job says, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” …

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