We all carry baggage with us. The thing is, some of us can identify our bags, while others wander around the airport of life not even knowing which baggage claim area to look for their bags in. And then there are those who think they have claimed all their bags, unpacked them, and are now on vacation for the rest of their lives.
It just doesn't work that way. Each time you unpack a bag and toss it to the side, there will be one more there to take its place. Some will be overweight bags that cost you, while others will be carry-ons that you can deal with easily.
So lately, I have been looking around, trying to figure out what bags I still have left to unpack. I had myself pretty well convinced that I mainly have carry-ons left from my marriage and divorce. And then a friend made an off-hand remark that plunked an enormous TRUNK down in the middle of my life.
He said, "You are doing such a good job of self-condemnation, I'd hate to interrupt."
There it was. I had a huge trunk full of self-condemnation that I needed to unpack.
Funny thing is, I couldn't find the key to the trunk anywhere at first. But like all lost keys, eventually it showed up in a most unexpected place. I won't take you down the entire path that led to the key, but I will say that somehow, I got from thinking about The Five Love Languages to finding the key to my trunk full of self-condemnation.
So I opened the trunk. I expected it to be packed full, as heavy as it was, but it really wasn't. There were a few little things, some dissatisfaction with my size and my lack of domestic skills and a couple other odds and ends. But that wasn't what was filling the trunk and weighing it down. Once I removed those things, I found the weight. It was the memory of a conversation.
The summer before I found out about my ex-husband's afffair, I said to him one day, "You know, my love language is words of affirmation. If you could just tell me something you like about me, I would feel loved and so much happier."
He replied, "I can't do that."
So I pleaded, "Just one thing that is good about me. Maybe something I have done with the kids, or maybe something you've noticed that I do well. Maybe you could even just say 'thank you' for something I've done for you recently..."
And he replied again, "I can't. There isn't anything. I can't do that."
That memory is the weight at the bottom of my trunk. I hope that by pulling it out and putting it in the light where everyone can see it, maybe it will lose some of its weightiness. Maybe it will shrink down to such a small thing that it will no longer be able to support those other odds and ends of self-condemnation that were packed on top of it.
I can only hope so, because I am tired of stubbing my toe on this huge trunk that I have been unaware of until now.
Lord, may I never, ever say something that burdens someone else with a trunk full of self-condemnation. Help me to speak in love, so that I might be the servant who helps to unpack others' baggage, not the source of what weighs them down. In Your loving Name I ask this. Amen.