By: Catherine - Grit Club member
A few years ago, my 5 year old grandson came to visit us for the weekend. We were playing in the front yard when one of my neighbors walked by, and we started chatting. When we found out she was celebrating her birthday that day, my grandson chimed in and asked her how old she was turning. Knowing he wasn't intentionally trying to be impolite, she proudly said "65." He thought for a moment before responding and then asked, "Is your suitcase packed?" A bit surprised, she replied "For where, I didn't know I was going on a trip?" He quickly replied, "Well at your age, you are going to be meeting Jesus soon." We all started laughing at such an unexpected comment from a 5 year old, but over the years I have reflected back on his statement and asked myself, "Is my suitcase packed?"
2018 was the most life changing year of my life. At 60 years old and after almost 42 years of marriage, I packed my suitcase and walked out the door of my life as I had known it and divorcing my husband in the process.
Here are some of the things I've learned through that process over the past 2 years:
* Pack what you need and leave the rest behind
I lived this lesson on the day I rented a U-Haul to pack and take my only worldly possessions from what had been my home. Two hours later I pulled out of the driveway with only pictures of family, certain books, and some family furniture that had childhood meaning. I only ended up taking the happy memories of my children, grandchildren, childhood, and family. I left behind all those things that never really mattered like clothes, memories of ex-husband, and possessions with no significance or memories attached. I left behind material things that had no importance, and I had no regrets in leaving them! Time is the only thing we really have and how we spend it is the most important thing I can do today. Memories of me having joy, playing with my grandchildren, having fun, being loyal, being honest, and loving others are what I want to leave behind, especially in my grandchildren’s suitcases.
* Unless it is life changing, let it go
The human tongue has eight muscles in it, and in my opinion, it has the greatest ability to damage another person more than any other muscle in our body.
I have learned that friends can be fleeting, and words cannot be taken back once they have been spoken. I thought at times that I could not survive the heartache I have felt, but the friends that have stood with me are the ones that have mattered. There are different reasons and seasons for people in our lives. My mom once told me that friends will come and go but your family will always be there for you, and that has proven to be true! My family picked me up and carried me through the darkest valleys when I didn’t know how to get through them. I couldn’t skip the hard times or I would have missed the lessons and the growth, and because of that, the valleys are not so deep anymore.
I learned that God’s approval is more important than the approval of people, but family approval matters, a lot. Learn to bite your tongue! It’s easier to stop the bleeding in your own mouth than hurt others. We have to learn when to walk away.
* When your head is full of negative baggage, do something to empty the suitcase
I was in therapy for almost two years, and it was one of the greatest things I did for myself. I would encourage you to keep looking until you find the right one as it will make all the difference, and don’t be too proud to ask for help! After many months of seeing my therapist, one day I walked in and told her I felt empty. She said, "Finally, now we are getting somewhere. Empty is good! It is like going into a new room that has no color on the walls. Now you get to paint and decorate the room any way you want to. Empty space brings hope and possibilities. Celebrate your empty space!”
Don’t carry anyone else's baggage. You have enough of your own! Be intentional, be present, and be open to new things.
* Load your suitcase with the Armor of God
Ephesians 6:11 Take your stand against evil and trust God in ALL things (my interpretation).
I was recently visiting my grand kids, and while shooting Nerf bow and arrows with them in the yard, my 4 year old grandson Charlie was shot with a foam bow by his Dad (quite hard I might add). I knew it had to hurt! When I stopped to check on him, my grandson said, “I am fine Emmy (my grandma name), I have my armor on!”
My situation has forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and that has been fantastic for me! In my 42 years of marriage I had never driven with my ex-husband in the car. For my grandson Zach’s 16th birthday, I surprised him with an invitation to play in a golf pro am tournament in Atlanta, and it was going to be my first time driving 300 miles alone one way. After achieving that first milestone, it gave me confidence to drive (alone!) 17 hours to and from Dallas, Texas. I then went on and took a vow of silence at a monastery, went to a 5 day yoga retreat, hosted 22 people on New Years Eve for dinner, organized a local Thanksgiving Pajama Party with 23 family members, lived and cared for my new home, hired a financial planner, and many other 'firsts' for me. When problems have shown up, I have learned to relax and lean away from the noise in my mind. I have learned that I am not in control, and God's plan for my life are far greater than I ever could have dreamed. He has my back, always!
* If your bag doesn’t have the right tools, then you really can’t get healthy
My oldest grandson Zach is a golfer. As I have watched him play, I am fascinated by all the clubs in his bag. If he chooses the wrong club, then chances are the shot won't be accurate. Even if he does choose the right club, then there is still a chance the shot might not be accurate! I have learned from that example to take my chances with the right club as opposed to the wrong one. I have kept my bag full of the right people, right mindset, doing the right things, and having the right relationships. If I am not taking care of me, then I cannot hear God when he speaks to me. I have had so many miracles, so many affirmations, and so many times God has answered my prayer and far exceeded anything I could have imagined. God is so much bigger, greater, and amazing than I could have ever thought. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plan will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 People do matter too. By choosing the right people to be around me in my life, it has given me great perspective, insight, wisdom, comfort, and love. So choose wisely the people to be around you!
I pray that when I get to heaven and my suitcase is opened, it will be empty. In its place will be the joy, peace, love, and happiness I left behind to those on earth that I loved (and that loved me). I pray that their memories of me will be full of happiness and joy from the time we were together on Earth. Then my heavenly Father will be there saying, ”Well done thou good and faithful servant.”