Saturday, October 23, 2010

Baggage, Suitcases and Carry-ons

You know, lately we have been inundated with the airlines trying to charge us for every single item we need to carry on the plane.  Each airline has different rates based on different sizes and weights of luggage.  Only one airline has the tagline:  Bags fly free!

If you would have asked me just as recently as a few weeks ago, I would have said that I don't have any baggage.  I would have denied the need to bring anything along on this journey of life.  All my stuff is neatly handled and packed away.  (Ummm.  Really?)

As I am taking a mental inventory each morning, I realize that I have been in denial about my luggage needs and that the situation needs tending. 

Now there are lots of kinds of luggage.  Some are just plain and serviceable.  Some are elaborate material and major name brand.  Large or small, worn, broken handles, and ribbons for identifiers amongst the other potential look-alike luggage on the carousel.

But as I contemplated this post, I thought that there is really three kinds of luggage in life.  Obviously, I don't really mean the actual luggage piece itself, but the contents of each.   Here is my overview:

Baggage:  Baggage is the really old stuff that just keeps hanging on from so long ago that has not been resolved and but you can't remember the last time you considered it.  It's the stuff in the furthest corner of the attic and if you were a truly compulsive cleaner you wouldn't even have to look inside to know it needs your touch before it can go in the trash.

Suitcases:  This is the stuff that is lingering and has some need for attention.  It's not really urgent but it nags at you any time you have a quiet moment.  Sorta like the winter sweaters that could be folded and stored until October and it's already July.

Carry-ons:  I think this is the stuff we are made of every day.  That we take with us and at times we consider it urgently necessary material.  It's right on the tip of our tongues and at the front of our minds when we aren't otherwise engaged.  We put it at the top of the list like your toothbrush and clean undies!

I am sure you can already see where this is going.  Most of us have some of all of these pieces.  Don't feel badly about it.  We all have it.  It just needs tending with some regularity.  I don't know about you but I don't have that much storage space for luggage to keep piling up in the attic.  I need room for the important stuff like the kids baby books, remnants of high school prom, and a box of favorite books and cds.  Well, okay, my Partridge Family albums too.

So, it is time to take inventory.  Personal inventory.  I really have loved that phrase ever since I heard it in an A.A. conversation.  It is a powerful statement because just saying it makes you feel the need to do it!  It is an action statement.  As Dr. Phil sometimes says, It's got a verb in the sentence.  Personal inventory.

As you ponder on how to even start this Personal Inventory Project, I am reminded of another friend's blog I read recently where she started to clean the bathroom and before she knew it, the entire bathroom closet contents were out and there actually was a bigger mess than when she started. 


So it makes sense to me to review my carry-on first.  Reconsider what is really necessary for each day.  You don't need the broken pen that was used to sign your mortgage 20 years ago, the empty bottle of hairspray you swiped from that fancy bathroom in NYC, or the countless gum wrappers to make a chain any more.  What?  Are you preparing to go on a game show or something?

Let's call these items the time someone forgot your birthday, feeling bad about gray hairs, and the worry about sugar-free gum and is it really a bad choice.  Who needs this in our carry-on for EVERY DAY.  We are hauling around stuff that just doesn't have to affect our mind-set, our thinking, or our committment to improvement.  Carefully consider these emotions and how these small things weigh on you and drag you down.  You will feel so much better when the carry-on is lighter and it actually fits in the overhead bin.

Then we have the suitcases.  This is important stuff that can't just be thrown out without review.  It will have to be opened and looked through, each piece individually.  Decisions will have to be made and possibly some action.

Let's describe this stuff as hurting your best friend's feelings and pretending everything is really okay, or telling that "small" lie that won't hurt anyone, or not keeping your word to your kids when you promise to play ball with them Saturday morning.

This is the stuff that makes us who we are and is demonstrated in how we live.  Sure, you may have been kind to the older woman at the supermarket and let her checkout ahead of you but that doesn't make up for causing your friend pain or letting your kids down.  Attention is needed before removal.

See what I mean?  You can't just take the suitcase and throw it out.  These things need attention.  They need action from you.  The action you take can determine how much lighter the suitcase will be.  The other option is to just keep hauling it around.  Sure your suitcase may have a handle and smooth rolling wheels if you are lucky.  But sooner or later, you will get tired of tugging it around with you.

And then we come to the baggage.  The old hurts and disappointments that affect our effectiveness even though we never take it out and look at it anymore.  We have ignored it so long but it is so engrained in the fiber of us that we don't have to pull that heavy bag out of the attic to know.  We have smoothed it over, painted it and just ignore the crack in our being.  We think others don't see that crack and so we don't either.

Let's describe baggage as a broken heart, the habit of blaming others, and the idea that we've always done it this way.

THIS STUFF NEEDS TO GO TO THE DUMP!  As soon as possible.  But it must be handled first.  It needs attention before it can be tossed for good and lighten the burden you are carrying.

I read a book called "The Hiding Place" and it is about Cori Ten Boom and her family who help protect and hide Jews during WWII.  They had a secret room in their house and they helped anyone they could, anytime they were asked.

Her father was a watchmaker and there were routine train trips to make sure the time at the watch shop was in keeping the big clock in Amsterdam.  As a little girl, Cori would make this trip with her father and she enjoyed the adventure very much.

On one of these trips, she questioned her father about some adult issues that were concerning her.  Her father stopped in his tracks and set down his heavy bag carrying the time-keeping equipment.  It wa so heavy it landed with a thud.  He asked Cori to pick up the bag and carry it for him.  Of course, she couldn't even lift it off the ground.  She looked up at him and said, I can't carry it.  I am not strong enough.

Her father said, And so it is with this situation Cori.  You are not able to carry the weight of it so I will carry it for you until you are ready.

Has God spoken to you yet?  He is speaking to me.  I can do all the housekeeping of my luggage that I can, by making amends to those I have hurt, asking for forgiveness, changing my ways.  I am the first to admit that I cram my luggage full and it barely will close.  There is alot of work to do.  And I am willing to change and lighten the load.

However, there are also times that it is too much for me alone.  But I have a Friend and HE will carry it for me. 

"He will carry you when your strength won't go any farther; when you have waved goodbye to the very last dream of your heart.  He will carry you when the tears pour out like a river.  When you cry in the night not to wait til the morning light."

So don't be taken over by the weight of your past.  Don't let the airlines weigh you down with charges and fees that are random and unfair.  With God you have the power to lighten your load....right now!  And it has to be said, With God, bags fly free!

Dear God,  Thank you again for another day to celebrate what you have done for me.  Thank you for speaking to me each morning and empowering me to handle what is before me today.  What a Friend you are to carry my load for me when it is too much for me to bear. Help me to grow stronger in You and to have wisdom in what I choose to carry around with me each day.  Amen.

ps  Just starting Day 5 of my food plan.  Had a bagel yesterday morning for breakfast and that isn't on the plan.  But made an immediate correction and got right back on track for the rest of the day.