My suitcase carries a lot of things it shouldn’t. Yours does too.
There are things in my life that God never intended, things He never wanted me to carry. However they got there, the reality is that I live most every day with these things. I’ve grown accustomed to the weight of them, so that I think this is really just what normal life is like. We call these things “baggage.”
When I was growing up, our family had a really large suitcase. I mean, really large. It was a massive black bag that could hold basically anything; it had a cloth exterior, which meant that it could take the shape of whatever you needed to put inside of it. Typically, we used this bag as our “extra bag” anytime we went on a long trip. We could stick random items inside that might be needed in an unexpected situation or an emergency: things like additional toiletries, an extra change of clothes for each family member, or a gift for a distant relative we might (or might not) see during the trip.
Anytime we brought the big black bag on a journey, I knew it was going to weigh a lot.
Imagine that you’re on a trip, and someone walked up to you in an airport carrying a bag like that. They are sweating, breathing hard, and looking extremely exhausted. You notice the size of the bag, and naturally you wonder what they’re carrying that is so heavy. You proceed to ask them, “What’s in the bag?”
They look up, noticing you for the first time, and reveal a slightly embarrassed expression. “Oh” they say. “Just the normal stuff for flying, ya know?” Still curious, you ask, “Mind if I take a look?” “Sure, go for it.”
The stranger unzips their big black bag. Inside, you glimpse a messy assortment of random objects that that probably shouldn’t be in a suitcase: two dumbbells, a brief case, several reams of computer paper, a phone book… As you continue to stare, items begin to fall out as the owner continues opening the bag, prompting a series of questioning looks from other nearby passengers.
What if that is how most of us live everyday life?
As Christians, we are on a journey somewhere. We travel each day, moving through life in our schools, our work places and our families, traveling further and further down the path of God’s will. Somewhere, off in the distance, we’re hoping to arrive at a point called “Christlikeness.”
But we’re carrying baggage.
There are unnecessary, unhelpful, harmful things we’ve allowed to latch onto our lives that are making the journey difficult. Things that God did not intend for us to carry, that are hindering our journey forward and bringing us hardship.
Shame, guilt, pain, jealousy…
These are the symptoms of carrying baggage.
This is our situation. And it is not the abundant life Jesus came to bring us.
We’re each faced with a decision: do I continue onward, pressing forward with this massive weight of my baggage, simply bearing this burden and accepting the fact that this is real life? Do I honestly resign myself to living the rest of my life with the same shame, guilt, comparison, and pain that I currently have? Is that a decision I can afford to make?
Or, do I choose a very different path? Do I choose to be someone who faces my baggage, who confronts my issues head-on, staring them in the face, in order to eventually conquer them?
Whichever path we choose, we know this: our decision impacts more than just us. This decision changes the type of spouse you become, the type of parent you are, and the type of employee you’ll be. It impacts the way you pray, the way you obey, and the way you tithe. It will determine how you deal with money, how you react to confrontation, and how you build relationships. Most of all, it will impact how you build God’s Kingdom.
So, what do I choose?
Is today the day I begin dealing with my baggage?
Garrett Howell, CEO