Traveling Light, One Last Goodbye

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“I want to know what traveling light looks like. I want to know how to truly lay some heavy stuff down.”

Sweet friend, this is the exact question I asked myself for years so when you shared this question on my blog I knew I had to respond in the purest state of emotional, buck-nakedness. And, I’m okay with that. Tomorrow I will drive home, sign some papers, and say one more painful goodbye as my sister and I close on my father’s shop. At one time, it was the picture of a passionate perfectionist who took pride in the way things looked and a job well done. But now it’s just a run-down shop that holds so many good memories and so many brutal ones as well.  But mostly, it’s a mess that I see so much potential in and apparently, the new owners do too.

The ache I feel isn’t because I’m bitter. I ache because I am still laying down some heavy stuff, but I’m not walking away empty-handed. I’m walking away open-hearted and most likely holding my baby sister’s hand.

I can point to the place where they found my father. I can tell you where I was standing when I realized that addiction took over and left his shell. I couldn’t see it then but I do now. It was pain. It was a bad heart and a bent back. It was a few pills and a bottle when what he really needed was surgery. But, which one do you fix first when you’re that broken? In the end, his pain became more than he could bare and as his health declined, everything else in his life followed suit.

Once again, I lay down those hard things to cling to the good memories of when he was fully present in our lives. I’ll whisper about the sweet and happy memories when the ugly ones are loud and haunting.

Tomorrow I will hand over the keys and remind myself that I’m a grown woman because saying goodbye to that shop means saying goodbye once again to my Dad and the little brown-eyed girl inside of me. I’m going to tell her that she did it. She became everything she dreamed she could be, she’s soft and strong. I’ll tell her that she’s whole and better than okay. I’ll tell her that when she learned to love big and forgive quickly and often until it stuck- that pattern kept her load light and her heart free. I’ll tell her that Jesus was bigger than everything that tried (and failed) to break her.

I have learned to travel light because I have learned to repetitive motion of forgiveness, you continue to forgive and release the hurts until it sticks and no longer stings. Finally, you get to move on with a lighter load and battle scars that fade. You trade the victim labels for a better identity that brave girls like you truly deserve.

I have learned to travel light because I have learned not to carry things that don’t belong to me. That’s super hard for us because we are mat carriers and fixers.

In John 5: 6-8, Jesus noticed a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

Thirty-eight long years. 


Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b]One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5: 1-8 NIV)


When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well his reply was, “I have no one to help me into the pool.”

His “pick up your mat and walk moment” reminds me that it’s never too late to find the healing our soul or body needs. It also reminds me that often we find it easier to blame someone else for what’s wrong with us- the wounds we feel justified in carrying around like a mat we no longer need.

It still hurts and I feel a little sad and that’s okay. I can still grieve tomorrow and give myself room to feel it all without picking up the mat of regret and if only.

I wanted to be well. I was willing to wrestle it out and find God in the breaking. I learned how to let go and realized that I couldn’t carry the mat of everyone else in my life and stay sane.

The invalid’s healing required action on his part. He had to want it, pick up his mat, and leave the place that he had dwelled for so long. I imagine that he didn’t walk home and store his mat just in case he needed it later. I bet he trashed it. Or made table mats out of it because the place he used to be stuck was the very place where Jesus met him and provided for him.

You can travel light. You can lay your mat down because you don’t need it anymore. You can face hard things and ache with a hopeful, healed heart that understands that God will always meet you in your place of pain. But, he doesn’t force-feed us or carry our mats for us. We are an active participator in our healing. Trust. Obey. Forgive. Repeat. You can do this. Don’t settle for anything less than a lighter load.

So much love to you,

Jennifer Renee

What do you need to lay down today? Leave me a comment, I would love to pray with you and keep this conversation going.

13 thoughts on “Traveling Light, One Last Goodbye

  1. Hi
    Thanks for this – my dad passed away 18 months ago, my brother lives with my mum, and from my perspective i am the outsider, he appears to get everything he wants, my mum dotes on him like he is a teenager ( he is 43 ) cooks. For him, cleans, drives him to the pub every weekend and I feel resentful …. and then I do the dreadful thing of making myself the victim, uncared, unloved ….and surprise surprise take it out on my ever loving husband.
    Two things strike me
    1. Trust obey forgive repeat – I pray hand it over to God and then something happens and I feel the resentment again…. it’s good to know I am not the only one who needs to REPEAT …. and to know that Gods healing will come – thank you
    2. I can’t carry every one else’s mat in my life – I am a fixer … kids aged 22 and 19 … and I want to sort their lives, problems but I can’t, I can’t live free and carry others mats.
    I recently went on a coastal walk and saw seagulls flying free over the cliffs…. I felt like a bird of prey tethered to a perch, my prayer to God was that I wanted to live free, he spoke to me … hand over control and resentment to me and you can live free….
    It hasn’t happened over night, but Trust Obey Forgive Repeat … I am getting there and will live free like a seagull.

    1. Wow, your comment is so powerful. Your insight is on point and has truly moved me. You are listening to Him and I can tell you are a women who will walk in freedom! Much love to you!

  2. Jennifer, beautiful and heart stirring words. Thank you for reminding us to trash the heavy load we carry around time and time again.

  3. I have trusted, I believe I obey (when I know what I’m supposed to do), I’ve forgiven. The repeat is like a farris wheel and I can’t find the end to get off. I’m tired and I want to be happy and enjoy what life I have left. I feel like I need to get out and I feel like I have to stay and I’m stuck in the middle and can’t move forward or even backward long enough to get off. I don’t even cry anymore because I’m sure if I do I might not stop. I need to get off the Farris wheel.

    1. Ann, everything you just described is something I identify with and I think everyone in this community will too. I know it feels like that Farris wheel will never stop, but it will. Praying for you know and wishing I could give you a big hug! ❤️

    1. Love you so much, Holley. Thank you for praying and supporting me through all of us. ❤️

  4. I need to lay down a lot of things…I need to lay down the old me that didn’t look back and shoved it under the rug. I need to lay down the stoic, armored, iron clad, funny me who didn’t need anybody and accept a softer more vulnerable me. That’s hard because the expectation of others for that old me, the entertainer, the strong…doesn’t go away, so when I’m weak and they seem disappointed in that, I internalize and want to recoil too at myself. It’s a new chapter, where rest is important, authenticity is key and acceptance of where I’ve come from is hard but ok. I need to forgive myself over and over again in the learning process.

    I like how you talk to your adult self. Reminding her that she made it, that you are proud of her and she became more than she ever dreamed, through Christ’s abundant love. I want to be able to do that too and to believe it. It’s all true, God has given me so much more than my wildest dreams in my husband, my kids, my work, my Calling…I’m thankful. Now I have to take that head knowledge to heart.

    Thanks for being so open, authentic and honest. Love that in you!

  5. I love this part!

    “The invalid’s healing required action on his part. He had to want it, pick up his mat, and leave the place that he had dwelled for so long. I imagine that he didn’t walk home and store his mat just in case he needed it later. I bet he trashed it. Or made table mats out of it because the place he used to be stuck was the very place where Jesus met him and provided for him.”

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