Love is Light Luggage

Today marks my first guilt-free Labor Day since 2002. I left my husband of thirty years on Labor Day eleven years ago, and my heart has been hanging on to a suitcase filled with guilt since then. Letting go of the guilt has been like giving birth in a strange way, but I’m the one coming out of the darkness and on to the shore. I knew better than to enter a marriage based upon guilt, but I did it anyway. The narrow religion of my childhood was an unforgiving birth canal in which I stayed for far too long. It constricted my heart and made me feel guilt going in and coming out of my marriage. There are still many who see divorce as a cardinal sin, and I fell into a pattern of apology and wore my relationship status much like that scarlet letter Hester Prynne donned.

Miserably married folks were particularly irritated by my divorce, and I see now it was simply a case of misery loving company. ‘If I have to stay married, so do you’ was a prevailing attitude. I found myself defined by yet another negative label, and it hurt my heart deeply.  I know now that I put those labels  on my heart, and I found others who agreed with me. It’s been the theme of my heart until this year. I see myself in a new and beautiful light for the first time, and I’ve let go of those hateful labels that weighed down my heart and broke my spirit. Ripping off the labels was a lot like tearing bandages off healing wounds. They didn’t come off easily and took little pieces of my heart with them when they did.

The pieces of my heart that were attached to those labels are gone, and they aren’t coming back. Like skin pulled away with a bandage, they needed to go. It was worth all the pain of the past month to see the beautiful new heart under those labels. God has been creating that heart in me for almost three years, and it’s been a process that brought both amazing love and deep hurt into my path. Last week, God took off the labels when I finally agreed to let them go. He  tossed them in the trash and bid me to look at my new heart through His eyes. I can’t describe how I felt when I saw the new me; I cried cleansing tears of pure joy. Obeying God was the key to my makeover. I listened as never before and heard love. Love changes everything, and that was the lesson my heart so needed to hear in order to heal.

I was stuck in a ridiculous rut for eleven years that took my heart to its lowest level ever. I longed for a way out, but I continued to go deeper into darkness and almost drowned. God had other plans, but those plans could not begin until I agreed to obey Him and Him alone. I let religion define my relationship with God, but He showed me that only love can do that. Love lifted me once again as I found myself drowning in a sea of guilt unable to reach the shore. God put a beautiful lighthouse  on His sweet shore of grace that gave me the courage I needed to fight my way out of the dark waves and find His love and grace waiting for me on the shore.

I’m not sure where my path will go from here, but I know that the luggage I’m carrying now is not the same I carried to this point. Grace, peace, and love are carrying me this time. That terrible load of guilt sank to the bottom of a dark sea and is right where it belongs. I feel like my nineteen-year-old self running in the woods, and that’s just where God wants me to be. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that God put a trip to Topsail Island in my path this week. My heart feels like a Topsail sunrise!

Sunrise on Topsail Island

Grace Flippers

An afternoon of swimming left me beautifully worn out. What a blessing it’s been to watch the girls learn to love the water. I wasn’t sure about having a pool with two little girls who didn’t swim, but seeing them play in the water has been a beautiful blessing. My father got tired of trying to teach me how to swim, so he threw me in the deep end of a very cold pool. I got to the side and only recently stopped swimming as though my life depended up getting to the side. The pool has been such a blessing  as I’ve overcome my fear of the water and swam without panic for the first time in my life. I’ll be sorry to see the pool covered and hope to get in at least another month of swimming in before having to close it.

The key to swimming is the same as the key to loving, letting go. That’s been God’s powerful lesson this month. I’ve let go of fear and kicked guilt out of my heart. What a difference that’s made in the way I feel. Guilt made my heart feel as if it had a concrete block attached to it. I’ve replaced guilt with grace. I noticed that Gina and Tyler were swimming with flippers today, so I donned a pair and couldn’t believe the difference they mde. I think my ankles may be a little sore tomorrow, but I loved the feeling they gave me.

God’s grace has the same effect on my heart as those flippers had on my swimming. God not only gave me an image; He also let me feel His lesson in grace today. It’s so good not to be guilt ridden anymore. God is love, and guilt destroys love faster than anything else in this world. It’s a lesson that’s taken a lifetime to learn, but I’ve finally got it and don’t plan to forget it. I felt like a mermaid in the pool today, and that is a feeling I won’t soon forget. If I ever feel guilt creeping back into my heart, I plan to swim away from it as fast as those grace flippers will carry me.

Flippers