The Empty Nest
I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
With both of my kids recently off to college, several people have asked how my wife and I are doing with the empty nest. It’s of course both happy and sad. We’re sad they’re gone, but thankful that they’re growing up and able to go to college. It’s quiet at home, but my wife and I are looking forward to new adventures together. We love each other, but we also genuinely enjoy spending time together.
This wasn’t always the case. We just recently reflected on those times when we almost didn’t make it. In my addiction, I was terribly selfish, engaging in behavior that rained calamity down on our family. In my self-destruction, my wife appropriately created boundaries to protect her and the kids. There was a time when I was not at all likeable. There was a time when I didn’t act like a husband.
Even in recovery, I can still be terribly selfish. I’ve had to learn – this isn’t natural for me – to ask how my decisions affect my wife. I’ve had to learn how to act like a good husband. If I want a good marriage, I must keep up my end of the arrangement, abandoning my selfish behavior and investing every day in our relationship.
This is somewhat similar to how Paul described our relationship with God in today’s passage. In it, he quoted God’s decree from the Old Testament, as he declared that he would be our God and we shall be his people. To enter this beautiful relationship appropriately, we must abandon the evil in our lives. We must turn from our way to follow him. Then, he will be our father and we will be his children.
Just as I must abandon my selfish ways and invest in my relationship with my wife if I want a good marriage, I must also abandon my will and pursue my relationship with God if I want the life for which I was created. I cannot simply do whatever I want and have a good marriage. Likewise, I cannot follow myself and follow God. I must choose one way or the other. One way leads to misery. The other leads to the life that I truly want. The daily choice is mine and the results are predictable.