“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.2 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. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  [b]5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?”
7 “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.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 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,
What do you need to lay down today? Leave me a comment, I would love to pray with you and keep this conversation going.