I am a sucker for word pictures, metaphors and object lessons. I am absolutely certain that this is a good thing, because in the new testament I read, Jesus loved to use examples from daily life to help people firmly grasp his life giving concepts. So, if you give me a hard time for my metaphorical romance with the metaphor, I’ll just Jesus juke you in your place. boom.
I also love vintage suitcases and I want to collect a few and make a small tower of them in the corner of my room. Lately, however, they have started to speak to me in a drastically different way. I’ve realized that I already have a lot of old suitcases, but they’re not the robins-egg blue, hand stitched, antique leather kind I was hoping for. These suitcases are what’s classically known in the counseling world as “baggage”. I, like many of you, have bags of junk that I’m lugging around my life. What’s worse than the pain that they’re causing my muscles is that I’m using them to frame and shed light on my current life. For example: If I couldn’t trust people in the past, then that suitcase serves as a reminder that I probably still can’t trust anyone now. The exact number and weight of the bags I am lugging around is yet to be determined. I am learning that it takes specific circumstances and emotions for me to become fully aware of them
Yesterday I became painfully aware of a dangerous bag I am dragging. I was reading the first part of Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts in the bathtub, and without giving anything away, I will say that it’s a difficult and graphic opening that reduced me to rubble. After three pages I found myself in the fetal position, in the tub, unwillingly sobbing to God “Please don’t take my babies.” I was begging God not to touch them, commanding him to let them live out the beautiful hope and potential I see in their eyes and hearts. I just curled up and sobbed angrily over and over again: “God don’t take my babies, please don’t take my babies.” When I dried my eyes and body on a olive green towel I saw a suitcase, a heavy bag that had been weighing me down.
There in the bathtub this bag had sprung open, unleashing on me the ugly truth that I don’t trust God completely with my life or my family. I expect loss around every corner so that if I find it there I won’t be as wounded. I fight and I protect and I frenzy myself with worry and work convincing myself that by keeping my hands in constant motion I can prevent more pain. Maybe if I exhaust myself, I can shelter our small family for another nearly fatal blow. I bagged up the painful past instead of releasing it. I use its presence to remind myself that the only really trustworthy person is me, and I have to keep it all together. It’s preventing joy, connecting and depth with my Father in heaven. The only thing left to do now is take out every scrap from the bag, turn it over and over in my hands and spill truth over it until it disappears completely, lightening my load.
As I continue to take in this life, I am aware that other bags will make themselves known. I catch ghostly glimpses of them every now and again. When they show themselves fully I will have to sort through them as well, slowly replacing their contents with truth, ever lightening my soul. I’m ridiculously glad that I have a lifetime to unload these bags, and I pray that as I journey I can see things in the light of Gods truth so as not to pack or pick up any new ones.
If you see a battered bag in the corner of your life, open it, and ask God to sort through it with you. He will give you the truth, which will heal like a miracle salve, and your soul will breathe easier from being out from under its weight.