Please welcome my friend, Dr. Julie Shannon, to the blog today. She writes at the intersection of faith and family, specifically families in crisis. I hope you are encouraged by her thoughts on how the childless can redeem what can be a difficult back-to-school process. Find out more about Julie on her website.
The close of summer peeks over the horizon. As sunny, salty days begin to conclude, a hint of fall is in the air—a new school year is near.
Overnight, stores begin to overrun with school sales. Advertising everywhere entices us to purchase kids’ clothing and school supplies. Church pulpits communicate prayerful messages for students and teachers on the eve of a new school year.
However, for singles, empty nesters, parents of traumatic loss, and the childless (involuntarily and often voluntarily) the end of summer and beginning school year proclamations can bring a pang to the heart and spirit.
For those who experience this empty ache, here are four ways to work through the pain and transform this back-to-school season into purposeful life.
(Caveat: we are all in different places on our journey. If your space is still too emotionally raw, please feel no pressure. Keeping taking steps forward at your own pace with others alongside you. You are not alone!)
Before you head out for weekly shopping of household goods or for an evening at dinner when you will pass by store windows, mentally acknowledge the surrounding market focus.
This time of year is a reality—as much as possible, mentally shore up and set your expectations accordingly. School clothing sales are in most stores right now. For stores with a variety of goods, school supplies have a special display in full view.
Just being aware and preparing mentally will help keep those rounding-the-corner-painful-intake-of-breath moments at bay. If you find yourself in a store having a “moment,” keep walking and use your inner voice for healthy self-talk. Phone a friend who understands and ask them to talk you through.
When your current reality of school days brings challenges, spend time reflecting on happy childhood school memories in your past. Take a break and ponder the good times you experienced. Be thankful for the joyful times and people in your past. Think about how they helped shape you in a healthy way.
Ask yourself, what adults positively poured into your life and definitive years? Parents, teachers, family friends, relatives, coaches, leaders?
How did they help you grow?
Where have you seen other adults helpfully assist in a young person’s life? Maybe someone you know personally, maybe a story you read, maybe even a movie.
Think on these things and then commit to purposeful action.