Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baggage Check

As American missionaries living in East Africa, my husband and I do a lot of traveling and there is one thing I can tell you... I know baggage! I’m not talking about the luggage that carries the baggage... I’m talking about the stuff in the luggage that we carry as baggage. Know what I mean?

Through my experience of carrying all that luggage, loaded with baggage, to and through the airports of the world (well, at least some of them)... organizing it onto the trolley carts, lifting it onto the conveyor belts, having it x-rayed and screened, lugging it over to the check-in desk for weigh-in, then being told one piece is too heavy and enduring the embarrassing moment of shuffling my personal baggage around to get the luggage in compliance with the weight limit for each individual piece... whew... I can tell you, I know baggage. Maybe it was the pulled muscles from all that lifting, or maybe it was having my private stuff on public display, but something forced me to take another look at what I was lugging around in all those bags and a serious re-evaluation process had to be conducted before I ruptured a spleen, or something else.

Now there is a spiritual side to all this talk about luggage and baggage... I’ve discovered that I do the same sort of thing with emotional baggage I’m lugging around. And, just like I needed to re-evaluate the luggage I was carrying from airport to airport, I also need to re-evaluate the emotional baggage I was carrying from relationship to relationship. To start off with... I carry way too much... I need to stop being so critical and hyper-sensitive, making one relationship own-up for the failures of another. Know what I mean?

I pack my own luggage... I decide what stuff gets lugged around on our trips together. So, when the load gets too tiresome and encumbering to bear, I’ve got no one to blame but myself. In comparison, I also pack my own emotional baggage. So, what I carry around emotionally has nothing to do with anybody else, but me. After all, I’m the one who decides what goes into those bags, nobody else does that for me. Sure, it’s easy to say I was hurt by a particular person but when it comes to packing my emotional baggage, it’s totally up to me what I carry. I decide what gets packed, I decide what gets lugged around and I’ve got no one to blame but myself for the encumbering emotional burden that I bear. Nobody else is suffering because of my luggage... I mean, they’re not lugging it around, I am. Emotional baggage is all about me... myself... I packed the bags, I decided what was to be kept and what was to be left behind.

The purging process isn’t easy but it is necessary. Letting it go and getting over it is easier said then done, but it’s do-able. We really are able to let things go... we really can get over it. I remember what it was like to fly before 9-11 changed the world. Airline passengers could walk to their departure gate without going through a security check and friends and family could accompany them to wish them a farewell. Then, when the world changed, security restrictions imposed on passengers became a nightmare. I’m convinced that one of these days, we’ll be issued disposable clothing to wear during our flight and personal items will have to be purchased upon arrival at our destination. I really am joking about that, but on a serious note, whatever the restrictions were, we adjusted, and whatever the restrictions will be, we will adjust. Actually, it was the restrictions the airlines imposed on it’s passengers that created this thought of what was really necessary in my emotional baggage as well. If I can physically adjust, I can emotional adjust, too. It’s do-able. Know what I mean?

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