Friday, February 15, 2013

Embracing the Empty Nest

Dan, Linda, and Josh in Istanbul

Linda and I are doing some Valentine's Day things today and tomorrow. We get to spend two entire days together!

In many ways things are different for us since Linda's father Del died. He lived with us for 6 1/2 years and had a large presence in our lives. We knew we were doing a lot of things for him, especially Linda. Every day we're realizing just how much we were doing in the absence of doing them.

Plus, our son Josh moved into an apartment in the fall, so we miss him, too.

This makes us "empty nesters." Will we be OK? I believe so, for this reason: every week, for our 40 years together, we have taken a "date" together on Friday nights, plus we've done countless things together. We have always done ministry together; we are co-ministers in life. We have said the words "I love you" many times every day of our marriage, and expressed this by giving gifts small and large. We have invested heavily in our relationship, one-on-one. Thus we are not now in some weird place of non-relationship, looking at one another and asking "Who are you?"

When I interviewed at Redeemer 21 years ago I shared my priorities with the leaders, which were and still are:

  1. God: I am going to nurture my relationship with God first.
  2. Spouse (if married): I am going to nurture my relationship with Linda second.
  3. Children: I am going to nurture my relationship with my sons third.
  4. Job:\I am going to love and minister to the people of Redeemer fourth.
I've not been perfect at this. But my love and care for others is better and freer when my life with God and family is green and growing.

I hear Linda's footsteps coming down the stairs. I've always wanted to be alone with her, to spend time just with her. Like we've been doing for the past 40 years.