Becoming a Never Empty Nester

A fun topic for today and that is, becoming a never empty nester. I told Jeremy this should actually be a hashtag, never empty nesting. And the problem or the question that I think is so good, I want to hear Jeremy talk about this is, do you imagine, and this is why this is so important, because in America, I think we do imagine this. Do you imagine managing a household and raising a family, building a family is a task to complete. Do you believe there’s a finish line to that? Most of us, we’re not saying like,” Oh yes, exactly.” But in our mind, in our hearts, we know that, we think there is we, we envision this day, we see this day, we dream about this day when that is telling about what we believe about the future, what we believe about the now and what we believe about what we’re even building. So yeah Jeremy, what would you say to this?

Yeah, so we are very story form creatures, and we imagine retirement. We imagine this day where the kids are all gone and when we think about that, this helps us oftentimes get through those hard seasons with our kids. But that story is a story that personally I don’t like. And I just want you guys to consider that does not have to be the story. Your story doesn’t have to be, “I can’t wait for the day when I’m alone in my house with my wife. And then one of us dies and then we’re alone in our house for years potentially after that.” That doesn’t sound like a dream to me at all. And it’s not one that is normal in the Bible. The idea of having… You see stories like the Prodigal Son story, stories about Abraham, stories that parables Jesus would tell all the time about a father with sons and how they would work in the vineyard, things like that.

This idea is really foreign to the Middle East. When we take people to Israel, we show them what Middle Eastern houses look like, and they’re all multi generational. There is no such thing as an empty nest in those cultures or as a rule in those cultures. And you might ask, “Well, how does this even happen?” And we’re going to talk by the way about this metaphor of a nest a lot at the Family Teams Weekend in October. It’s how we kick off Friday. As we talk about this, there’s a totally different way to think about family, but just going to give you guys a little bit of an idea here. If you… You can think about life as a, in a household as being something that you build and then pass on generationally, as opposed to a nest that, it gets empty and then slowly disintegrates. How does that happen?

One way is having kids older in your life. So a lot of times the reason why, when people are dreaming about the empty nest, they stop having children at an earlier age in order for them to get to that season more quickly. And so that can really have an impact on the way that you think about your family. Another way that you can have children persistent later into your life, and continue to cultivate a household, is by adopting or fostering kids when you’re at your peak of experience, a lot of times, and we’ve seen a lot of families do this. You may have spent 20 years really be crafting your household and your skills as a mother and as a father, only to at your peak of skill, stop using those skills. And it’s been amazing for me to watch families foster and adopt children at that stage.

And that would create a scenario where you’re never going to, you’re not dreaming about the day where you’re having empty nest. Inviting aging parents to live with you as another way to not have an empty nest. Having those you’re discipling potentially move in during a season so they can have an immersive experience of discipleship, which we’ve done a lot of that. So the big picture you guys, is that if you are dreaming about the day when you will finally be done, having children in the house and having the complexity of managing a household, then you’re really living into this American story of the nest. But we just want you guys to be aware that there is another story, or other stories besides that one. And if you want to be a never empty nester, you can live into a story where your goal is to cultivate and create the strongest household that you can.

And then to have that household bless as many people as it possibly can for as long as you live. That’s another story, and that’s not about keeping your own children in your house for longer than they should be there. It’s just that there is almost nothing more powerful or more beautiful than the experience of living in a multi generational household. And you can give that gift to so many more people, if you are cultivating that as your goal. But you’ll never do that if you hold onto this dream of an empty nest. And so just something to consider. And I’m curious Jeff, yeah, what does that stir up anything for you as you think about?

Yeah well, I mean, what you just ended on, I think is, what I was thinking about the whole time of, I think it’s funny that we want to empty the house and be empty nesters, when we got decently good at it. Did I mean in my room, we got decently good at a home and hospitality and people in our home and taking care of them and I’m like, I love hospitality. Me and Lisa love taking care of people and practicing and I’m working on it, but I know we’re still very young in it. And so to me, I’m like, “Man, I’ll be probably really awesome at it when I’m 50.” And that, so why would I, hopefully I can use it by then. Hopefully I can really point it towards something. And I just think you got to bless as many people as possible for as long as possible with the gift of the household, because that’s what it is.

Especially the more we go forward in our culture, homes that are sacred, homes that are full of Shalom, homes that are full of peace and love, man that is actually, I think one of the most powerful things we can give people and close that off is actually, I think a griegious sin at some levels almost. When so many people and so many places, and so many people in our city and our neighborhood could use that or could be blessed by our table, our hospitality, our bedrooms, our love, our whatever. And so I think yeah, I think that’s huge. And I think to think about it, that calls you up into, like you said, a bigger story.

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