on a Sunday morning a few years ago, i watched a pastor on stage holding about six pieces of luggage. when i first saw the luggage sitting to the side at the beginning of the service, i thought “oh, he’s going to use the whole baggage analogy about how we carry around baggage from our past and we should forgive. yep, heard that one before.” that’s how my brain thinks. when you’ve been in the church world for a while, it gets easier sometimes to pick up the clues on where a message is headed.
and while i began to mentally check out and start preparing my “to do” list for the day and thinking about what i could eat for lunch, he took a right turn off the road i had him on. he said (and i paraphrase), that when we are carrying a lot of “baggage,” it makes it hard for relationship. relationship, huh. like in how i relate to other people. as in baggage can affect how we interact with the people around us. okay, pastor mat, you have my attention.
mat continued. “when you’re carrying all this stuff, it makes it hard to love your wife. it makes it hard to spend time with your kids.”
and that’s when i think the Holy Spirit picked one of those pieces of luggage up and threw it at my head. it was one of those moments when a single phrase set off an internal dialog between God and me.
i’ve always heard baggage talked about as your past. something that slows you down, hinders you from moving forward.
but i suddenly began seeing all the things i “pick up” and carry with me every day. some of those things are even really good, admirable. things like taking care of my family, or doing something i promised a friend i would do. things that are necessary for me to carry for a while.
others are things i was never meant to carry. grievances toward others that seem to bother me more than they do the other person. oversights on basic things. expectations not met. words not said, or even said.
but when i start lugging all of those things around, they hinder me.
it’s why one more thing added to my plate–no matter how big or small–can set me off. i have nothing left to carry it with. My hands are already full. i even find myself thinking those exact words, “oh, great. one more thing added to my plate.”
i think, “how can my son ask me to shoot hoops with him, i’ve had a long day at work.” “how can my wife expect me to stop and talk right now, doesn’t she realize that if i don’t do these things, they don’t get done?”
i realized that i see my world and the people in it solely as who adds to the weight of the things i carry, and who lessens it.
so i’m trying to be more conscious of what i carry. i’m trying to make a choice to set some things down so that i’m free to have a conversation, give a hug, listen.
i’m trying to see my world differently so that it becomes more than just who is adding “one more thing” to my plate.
after all, it’s not their fault that i’m carrying so much—i’m the one who picked it up. and even if they handed me something to carry for a while, i’m the one who’s still holding the bags.
i’m not really great at this. in fact, there’s a certain comfort to having your hands too full to deal with other people.
but i need to start letting some things go for the people who are important to me, and for the God who i believe in, the One who wants me to lean more into Him than pick up everything around me.
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