Everyone has emotional baggage. We lug it around, and drag it across sidewalks, and over curbs. Sometimes we struggle as we pull it up hills. Then after we crest the hill, we struggle to keep it from pushing us down it. Inside all of this baggage that we carry around is past hurts, disappointments, abuses, failures and all kinds of other heavy weights.
Once, I remember helping a young lady prepare for her future. Her parents assisted in that process. As we all sat planning for the future, her father berated her the entire time. He never said a good thing about her. Not once. And it was clear this is the way he always treated her. Her mother never once intervened to stanch the flow of poison flowing from his lips. With bag after bag added to her shoulders from the people who should have been making her stronger instead of tearing her down, it’s a wonder the young lady had made it as far in life as she did.
Ironically, sometimes emotional baggage comes to us in ways that are not as initially so negative. Perhaps you had a wonderful experience. Maybe you met that perfect friend, or visited the most beautiful place, or perhaps you achieved some vaunted goal at your work. These moments propel you forward in life, but then you notice that much of life is not marked by those kinds of moments, and so you carry around the baggage of how great things used to be. Instead of celebrating those great moments, you then begin to carry them around as a weight of disappointment.
All of this emotional baggage has one primary effect. It keeps us from serving God to our fullest. We become so tired trying to carry around the baggage, that we are not ready or available to do the great things that God has for us. It isn’t that you are not supposed to have baggage. It’s that you are supposed to have different baggage! Consider the offer of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. There he tells those who are carrying a heavy burden that he will give them rest. But he also tells them to take his yoke upon them, and to consider that his burden is light. So according to Jesus, if you want rest from the burdens of your baggage, simply stop lugging it around, and start doing his work side by side with him!