It seems like a lifetime ago now. I was 19-years-old. I was at that age when there is a fine line between being a child, and being a woman. It was easy to slip into either role. As I lay in bed in my childhood home on a hot, humid summer night, I anxiously wondered what lie ahead. I looked around the room, and through the darkness I could see outlines of my childhood past. In the corner of the room a cloud of white satin and pearls hung from a hanger. A slight sadness filled my soul. A flicker of fear ran through me, possibly a premonition? However, my decision was made. The next day, I was to become someone’s wife. I would soon go from the only home I knew, to a new home a world away.
You can only imagine my parents when they said goodbye to me. However, my pride paraded alongside me through the airport that day. I refused to look back as I stepped on the plane. I had never flown before. I was nervous as I sat down next to a middle-aged Dutch couple. He asked if I had ever flown before. I said no. As the plane took off he reached out and held my hand. It seems strange now, but it wasn’t then. After many long delays, I finally found myself sitting next to my husband in a foreign car racing down the autobahn outside of the Amsterdam airport. I wondered for a moment if I was headed down the highway to heaven, or the highway to hell. Time would surely tell.
Three years later, I was traveling on that same autobahn, but this time I was headed home. I was no longer a kid now, but a grown woman. I had experienced hardship and pain. I had come through times of great loneliness, and was introduced to the harsh realities of the world. I had made many friends, visited amazing places, and experienced rich things that made me who I am today. “Good-bye my beloved Holland,” I remember whispering. It was there in that country that in the midst of hell, I encountered heaven. I had found faith, a faith that forever changed my life. It was a bittersweet moment, in a bittersweet life. I suddenly felt full of all I had experienced, the good and the bad. Tears rolled down my face as we passed from one country into another. Whatever was to happen, I had no regrets.
Life moved on until one day, many years later, I found myself packing and calling Kelowna movers to move again due to my impending divorce. In that moment, life appeared dark and dim. I was no longer able to continue on the way things were. The writing was on the wall. Change had come to pay us a visit again. As my hand reached to pack another article, I stopped and suddenly smiled at the little Dutch delft souvenir from a life and country of long ago. I remembered saying good-bye to my beloved Holland. In that moment, that day long ago on the autobahn, I came to realize a valuable lesson about life. We may make mistakes and go through difficult times, but there is almost always a positive side. We don’t need to define our life by regrets. We can learn from our mistakes. Those years were a foundation for my future trials. We do not know what lies on the road ahead. There may be difficult times or tragedies. In the midst of them we can have hope for a better life. We can walk by faith and not by sight.
That day as I packed to move, I didn’t know that life would move on. I had no way of knowing that I would truly be happy again, despite the new trials I was soon to face. However, I trusted that things would be fine. Somehow they always are. Life did go on, and I survived, even thrived. A lot would happen in the following years. Great things. We don’t need to live with regrets. Everyone makes bad decisions and mistakes. We need to let go. Regrets only rob of us of our life and energy, and they keep us in the past.
Instead, regrets should cause us to position ourselves for new opportunities. When one door closes, another will open. Forgive yourself, forgive others and forge on. We don’t have to be stuck in the past. It is easy to do. We are creatures who love to sit and ruminate on the doom and gloom. We beat ourselves up. Stop the inner critic. Don’t live life being weighed down by all that old baggage. It is time for a new set of luggage. You will need it, because you will be going to new places and traveling new roads. It will be an adventure. And you deserve it.
That day as I drove out of my driveway for the last time, just the kids and I, I wondered with expectation what lie ahead. I knew it would all come together. It is amazing how all of our trials, challenges, and celebrations are woven together into the beautiful tapestry called life.