The August day was hot, but inside . . . my heart felt cold and fragile.

My twin boys were leaving the nest, leaving me.

They were ready to go. Colorful multipacks of Gatorade and snacks were stacked next to the door. Their suitcases, laptops and coffee makers were already in the car.

At breakfast, I went over every possible thing they might ever need to know for college. Again. 

Strangely, the boys seemed eager to get on the road.

When they pulled out of the drive, two decades of daily mothering came to a screeching halt. My nest was empty, except for a few “feathers” they left behind: football cleats, fishing rods and faded t-shirts.

Emptiness moved in right after they left.

My first trip to the grocery store was actually quite painful. Passing up the family-sized cereal boxes made me feel sad. By the time I made it to the barbecue chips, I choked up, realizing I didn’t need to go down that aisle, anymore. When I saw how cheap my grocery bill was, I lost it right there in the checkout line, while the startled cashier stared at me.

I had been a 24/7 mother almost forever, it seemed, and I did NOT want to change. I wanted to keep my life exactly the same.

About that time, a pair of doves built a nest on my trellis. I watched how patiently the mother sat on the nest, keeping her eggs warm. Every so often, she and her mate would make a soft, mellow coo. Their nest was quiet and peaceful.

But when the babies hatched, everything changed. The nest hummed with activity and noise. The parents flew back and forth constantly to feed the hungry chicks. Now they cooed loudly over their nest, showing their pride.

Their full nest seemed to make them feel alive, totally engaged in the cycle of life.

The babies grew quickly. Soon, the small nest became so crowded, the baby birds had to hop onto the trellis. They ate great amounts and fluttered and preened their new wings. They were never still.

Until moving day…

One morning, the nest sat quiet and empty. The job was done.

I noticed they had all moved on, not just the chicks, but the parents, too.

God sent the birds my way to show me the importance of moving on.

Like the birds, God designed both children and parents to grow past the nest, to spread our wings and soar beyond it. This is life’s natural order, but honestly, sometimes it can feel pretty unnatural.

Solomon explains life’s transitions this way: “For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, VOICE)

These amazing truths became my daily mantra, helping me move on. I believe they can help you, too.

3 truths to help you soar beyond an empty nest:

Don’t fight change—you will lose.

At first, I fought having an empty nest—it just seemed so unfair. After all, I loved being a mother with kids in tow. I reminisced about the past (way too much). I felt so lost. And scared. Finally, I learned that once nesting time is past, it’s just not right anymore. I saw how striving to keep my life the same was a prison of my own making. Finally, I decided to stop fighting. Once I surrendered to my new reality, I was able to move on. Accepting the empty nest freed me to grow, to learn new things, and eventually, to soar far beyond it.

In order to grow, you must let go.

Growing beyond the nest is so much better than to trying to stay in it. At some point, the nest simply becomes too small—both for children and for parents. Remaining in a doting, hovering, “nest mindset” after the children leave only creates problems. Not only does it thwart the growth of adult children, it also thwarts your personal growth. Holding on can backfire, pushing your children even further away. As your children rise up to meet the next stage of life, you must rise up, too.

Nests were never meant to be permanent.

God designed nests to be temporary, so He must have intended for parents to do more than only parenting. Learning this led me to explore who God made me to be. First, I evaluated my gifts and talents and spent a lot of time in prayer. Then I started trying different things, having no idea where it would lead.

The past six years have been quite a journey! I’ve published a book and a Bible study, launched a website, written for numerous magazines and have become a professional speaker. My new role in life is meaningful and fulfilling. I never saw it coming, but God did.

God has good plans for you, too, if you choose to move on.

Right now, you may be facing an empty nest for the first time. Maybe your kids recently packed up their things and moved on to college, a new career, or marriage. You might be feeling sad and a bit lost. You may be struggling to accept change and longing for the way things used to be.

Just. Let. Go. Release the past and reach toward your future.

Remember if God so cares for the birds, then He will also care for you:

If you are willing to fly, God has new places for you to go. Draw close to Him as you learn to move on. Remember, change can be a great blessing. God can teach you how to soar beyond the empty nest into an exciting future.

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*Your role as a parent may be changing, but here’s one thing that will never change: your kids will always need your prayers. In fact, why don’t you spend a week in prayer over your children’s school year? To help you, I created Back-to-School Prayers, a FREE 7-day prayer guide.

Each day features a devotion, a prayer theme, verses and writing space.

Here’s what people are saying about this prayer guide:

“This guide is incredible! We gave it to families in our church to help them pray over the new school year.” (Pastor Chris, AR)

“Hi May, can we pass these guides to parents in our congregation? Your guide is a wonderful blessing!” (Teresa, AL)

“I’m saving this guide until next year, to see how God answered and to share His answers with my children.” (Mary, AL)

As your kids go forward into a new year, send your prayers along with them! Click here for your FREE guide.