Prayers from an Empty Nest

This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

“But Mom,” my 18-year-old daughter said, “I’m not used to you not knowing the answer!”

You’ve got to be kidding me! Last week I didn’t know anything, and today, suddenly, I know everything.

Tabitha, who moved out on her own about six months ago, called me for insight — a rare moment these days. And, wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have the information she needed. I comforted myself — after all, it was a tax question, certainly not my forte.

As a classic empty nester, my heart cries out for another chance — another golden opportunity to offer words of wisdom. Yet, when Tabitha does call, she isn’t seeking enlightenment.

“Do you have gas?” I ask.

“Did you eat today?” I probe.

“Did you pay your rent on time?” I continue.

Not exactly questions to show my daughter I believe in her, that I think she can do it on her own. My feeble attempts at parenting from my empty nest actually undermine Tabitha’s confidence and usually cause a confrontation.

“Mom, I don’t want you to teach me anymore. I just want you to be my friend,” Tabitha shared recently.

Alas, my heart and faith are tested as I learn my new role. I’m learning to be my daughter’s ally instead of her guardian. As the parent of an adult child, my advice doesn’t carry the weight that it used to — unless it’s requested. Somehow it’s worth its weight in gold if sought out, yet its value disintegrates rapidly when freely offered.

My new role requires that I practice the art of verbal restraint. There are times when Tabitha simply can’t receive instruction from me. What she really needs is for me to listen and to empathize. This requires discipline. Lots and lots of discipline.

The journey benefits me, though. As I walk through this period of life with Tabitha, I’m reminded of the many times God must feel the same frustration with me. He waits patiently for me to seek Him. He possesses all the wisdom and knowledge I could ever need. He’s willing to guide me and happy to counsel me. Yet, sometimes I’m slow to ask. Dare I expect more from my daughter?

Moving out of the way of God’s work in Tabitha’s life, I begin to understand my role. My voice isn’t to remain silent. It’s to be used as needed — upon request and, most importantly, as an intercessor. My job is to cover her in prayer and trust God with her future.

I have faith that Tabitha will walk in the “promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 8:15) that is set before her. To that end, I pray specific prayers based on God’s Word. I have received another chance to offer up words of wisdom, after all, as powerful words of prayer rise daily from my empty nest.

Jo Ann Fore lives in East Tennessee with her husband, Matt, a sleight-of-hand comedy magician, and her cat, Sapphire.

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