In the Empty Nest, You Can Find Your Empty “Next”

by Jennifer Dukes Lee January 19, 2024
“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation ...” Psalm 71:17-18 (NIV)

I stood in our living room, remembering the sweet voices that used to reverberate there — voices that belong to the ones who call me “Mom.”

In that moment, I could practically feel the rough, prickly twigs of this new empty nest.

My children did what children do — they grew up. But as happy as I was for them, I worried this change in our family dynamic would create a vacuum, sucking up the center points on which our daily lives seemed to pivot.

What would be next? How would this change my marriage?

That was two years ago.

Today, I am filled with confidence and joy. While God created my husband and me to be parents, parenting isn’t our only gig.

In the middle of our empty nest, we found our empty “next,” a space ready to be filled by obedience to God in new ways. He has plans for us, and He has plans for you too.

Take a look at Psalm 71:17-18 for reassurance:

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation …”

First, these verses remind us that God has been guiding us since we were young. Second, we can remember His past deeds and tell others about them. Finally, when our hair turns gray — even if, like me, you use a little bottle of color to cover your silver wisps of wisdom — we can say to God, Don’t forget about me! I’m still here!

Friend, He hears you.

The empty nest isn’t a place to confine us; it’s a place to refine us.

Life is far from over. Your greatest days may well be ahead of you. In fact, this is true no matter what new season you’re facing — a season of singleness or marriage, parenting or empty nesting, restarting your career or retiring. God is faithful through every life change.

Maybe the time you once spent supporting your kids’ hobbies becomes time to nurture relationships, grow your faith, take a class — or goodness, take a well-deserved nap! As for my husband and I, we’ve been dreaming about our future. We’ve reignited a sense of spontaneity. We’ve enjoyed befriending our adult children. In a funny twist, after my little birdies took flight, I became mildly obsessed with a new hobby: bird-watching.

None of it’s easy at first, but here’s the truth: You’ll find God inside your empty nest, helping as you spread your own wings even as you dwell in the shadow of His wings.

God, thank You for sheltering us with Your broad wings. Grant us space to grieve what's behind us and anticipate what’s ahead. Give us courage to explore fresh ways of living. Overflow us with peace instead of dread. May we find feathers to soften this nest where we dwell with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


If you are processing a new stage of your life, check out Jennifer’s bestselling guided journal, Stuff I’d Only Tell God, which walks you through thinking about your past, present and future in a healthy, God-honoring way.



For more encouraging content, connect with Jennifer at @JenniferDukesLee on Instagram.


Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go’” (NIV).

How does this passage encourage you as you think about your future and/or the future of the young people in your life?

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2024 by Jennifer Dukes Lee. All rights reserved.

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