I Know This Is God’s Plan, So Why Does My Heart Hurt?



On Mother’s Day, I said farewell to my daughter and son in love as they embark on a 2-3 year adventure in South Korea. Did you know Korea is 13 different time zones away from California? Did you know that South Korea is literally on the other side of the world?  And, Korea is 16 hours ahead of the Pacific time zone?  I never thought I would ever want to know those facts.

In the past two years I have suddenly become a proud military mama.  My youngest son is attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy and last December Ilyssa married Charlie, a 2014 West Point Grad.  Charlie is now proudly serving our country abroad after graduating from Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker Alabama this past March.  He is a Chinook helicopter pilot.  Whoo Hoo!


When they were dating and eventually engaged and then married, It was crystal clear to Ernie and I that Ilyssa and Charlie would not live in Central California and that they would be traveling where ever the Army sends them.  I knew, I knew, I knew.

Just like we know the following:

  • We know our children will graduate from high school and possibly move away to attend college.  
  • We know our kids will move out and start a family of their own someday.  
  • We know their room will be empty.  
  • We know there will be no more recitals or games to attend.  
  • We know we won’t be able to smell them.  
  • We know it’ll be quiet around the house.  
  • We know our simple weekly routines like grocery shopping or to Target will remind us of them.
  • And oh, we now know how grateful we are for today’s technology.

If we know all of that…WHY DOES IT STILL HURT WHEN WE SAY GOODBYE???  I thought I was prepared but my head knowledge wasn’t syncing with my heart knowledge.

Part of the problem is that I have said goodbyes in the past and I knew the hurt that was ahead of me.  I knew that sinking feeling of a swollen heart. I know the heaviness and huge lump that would once again take residence in my throat.  Ilyssa moved to The Master’s College in 2010, my daddy passed away in 2013 and Kiani has moved to New Mexico and moved to New York last summer.  

All throughout the day on Sunday, I caught myself praying and trying to pump myself up for the hug and kiss goodbye.  We did a little Mama / Daughter bonding and got pedicures.  I brought a 12 inch Smith’s Cookie to help celebrate the 3 birthdays that we would be physically missing.  




But as morning became the afternoon and afternoon became the evening our hugs got a bit longer.  My breaths became a bit deeper.  I wanted to shut down the ticking time clock that was the elephant in the room.  I even thought let’s just get this over with.  

I was mentally trying to prepare myself like a batter with an 0-2 count or when I have to make an awkward but necessary phone call.  “Deep breaths. It’ll be okay in few days.  This is God’s plan,” was the mantra in my mind.

I cried for the first hour and a half of our trip home.  Not gonna lie, I was a blubbering  idiot.  My son Jordan drove home and was so sweet, patting and holding my hand, attempting to console me.  I remember saying, “I know, they’ll be okay and this is the Lord’s plan.”

I felt guilty for crying.  I felt like I was doubting God.  But the Lord reminded me that I’m grieving.  I’m grieving a relationship.  I’m going to miss them.  Period.  And it’s okay.

I did the same thing when my daddy died.  I remembering vividly yelling out to Jesus, “Why am I crying???  I know he’s in heaven.  I know he’s in paradise!   Why am I crying??”

I’ve concluded that grief is a part of our life on this side of heaven.  There is no escaping it. I’ve realized that our bodies need to process the loss we feel.  It is not a sign of weakness.  It’s the way our bodies and how our hearts heal.

I fought it with the death of my daddy and to no avail.  Grief hit me again at La Guardia when leaving New York WITHOUT Kiani.  I remember walking to our gate when I realized he’ll never be moving back.  I distinctly remember telling Ernie, “He’s never going to live in Bakersfield again.” Heavy, heavy sigh.

What has helped me cope is recognizing that our children are designed to grow.  It isn’t God’s plan for them to forever be under our care.  It’s a time for us to focus more attention to our spouse.  He has perfect plans for our kids.  Who am I to stymie their growth?

 It’s been almost a week since Ilyssa and Charlie have moved to the other side of the world and the Lord has helped me through my sadness and sense of loss.  FaceTime has also helped too!  Ha ha! The Lord reminded me that the emotions I’m enduring are the instruments He uses to help me surrender to Him.  As a strong willed woman with type A characteristics, I have learned through the many “goodbyes” in my life how to trust in my Lord instead of myself.  

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

My need for peace has deepened the doorways for my need of intimacy with my Savior.   This is why Jesus left paradise to live on earth.  I have assurance that Christ is entirely good because the Lord has met my every need in every circumstance of my life.  Even saying goodbye to my children.  The Apostle Paul was telling the Corinthians here about a difficult situation he went through… 

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.  2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV)

For all of my future empty nest friends that will eventually have to say “goodbye” to their lifelines of joy, and who are diligently documenting the “lasts” in their lives….lean into the pain with Jesus.  It’s normal to cry and feel sad.  This is not heaven yet.  Don’t try to be strong. Or as Queen Elsa sings, “Let it go!” and trust in Jesus.

“Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33 (MSG)


I’ve looked up some articles and blogs that might help as you navigate your new normal.  The sadness will come upon you like waves of the ocean.  Stay and abide in our Savior’s presence.  I’ll be praying for all of us.



Highlights from USA Today:

  • Shift aside the terrifying thoughts.
  • Explore the ways that you intend to keep in touch with your children.
  • Understand what empty nest syndrome is, so that you can recognize the symptoms in your own situation.
  • Accept support.
  • Start looking to your own needs.
  • Rediscover the love of your life.


Grown & Flown.  Parenting Never Ends   http://grownandflown.com/category/high-school/

Celebrating the Empty Nest    http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/churchhomeleadership/celebratingemptynest.html





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