When our youngest child prepared to leave for college four years ago, the “Empty Nest Syndrome” was far from my mind. I knew other parents who had difficulty accepting their new lifestyle, but I eagerly looked forward to more time with my husband, the freedom to travel, and a release from school activities and obligations. What I didn’t expect was the feeling of loss that would accompany my new life.
As a Christian counselor with 15 years of experience, I knew that my feelings were normal. Life changes and their accompanying transitions can be exciting … and overwhelming. I trusted that God had new plans for me. Yet even with this head knowledge, my heart was confused and unsure of what to do next. I knew my job was to let go and move on, but the circumstances were new to me. I was in the middle of the transition.
It was at that point my “counseling self” encouraged my “parenting self” to start a special journal about my new transition.
I have always been a journal keeper. Journaling gives me clarity and direction during times of transition, loss, and achievements. Once recorded in my journal, life experiences come into focus.
If you are experiencing a life transition – a child leaving home, a job change, losing a loved one, dealing with a medical condition – you will undergo several stages of change, much like the stages of grief. Use this process to help you start navigating the change.
Clarify the Change
“God works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Write this verse in your journal. As you move from a familiar place to a new place during the transition, you can cling to the knowledge that God has you in His arms. Your circumstances are changing; His love and provision for you are not. It is okay to close the door on the past and open yourself to the next step of your journey.
Use your journal to clarify the change:
What are you leaving behind?
What benefits will you gain by letting go?
How can you close this chapter of your life?
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4
Although letting go may seem difficult, trust that God has new plans for this season of your life!
Kathy Bornarth, principal at Hope Counseling Center in Chantilly, VA, has journaled for more than 25 years. She is a certified Journal to the Self® Instructor, teaches journaling workshops, and equips others to journal online at www.journaling4faith.com and www.nacjw.com.
Excerpted from Journal Your Way to a Stronger Life by Kathy Bornarth: Just Between Us Magazine, Fall 2014