Friday, March 14, 2014

The Baggage of Life {How to Cope}

Dealing with people and their baggage is a tough job. Everyone has baggage. It's how we handle it that matters. A long time ago I made the decision to give it all to God. He can carry all of my problems a lot easier than I can. It's a choice we have to make each day. Once in a while I like to get that big suitcase full of my past out and unpack each item carefully. I examine each thing and relive all of my issues like they are just happening to me. I start to get those horrible feelings of regret, guilt, hatred, anger, and selfishness slowly seeping into my every thought, action, and word. I shutter to think about this because I chose to give it to God but can't quite let Him have it all just yet. Why is that?

So, I quickly pack that suitcase back up tightly and ask God to take it once more. "Please, God, take these burdens and these pains. Take these troubles and this anger. Take my past and use it for your glory." A relief floods over me and I feel whole again. I feel God wrapping His arms around me and, like any loving Father, telling me it will be alright. That baggage is heavy and back breaking (and heart breaking). No matter how many times I take all of those troubles back, God willingly takes them for me.

Am I the only one who does this? Am I the only one who relives my past? Well, I know the answer to that question is no. We all do it. We have all been on the receiving end (and the giving end) of a person who can't let go of their past. Child abuse or spousal abuse can make you abuse others. Maybe not physically but emotionally or verbally. Not having good parents (such as having an absentee father or an alcoholic mother) can cause you to be the same kind of parent to your children. Having unhealthy premarital relationships can make you extremely cautious when choosing friends (or your children choosing friends) later in life. This list goes on and on.

I have seen and witnessed some of these things first-hand. I have had people lash out at me because their husband is no good or because they lost their job. I've been on the receiving end of all kinds of bad things in life. It doesn't matter what I did or didn't do. It built up over the days, months, years until the top blew off and a verbal explosion occurred. It could be something small that triggers it. How we react to others is so important. We cannot let our emotions control our reactions. I've been reading Lysa Terkeurst's book "Unglued". Wow! I am so convicted. I highly recommend this book to all women. I have hurt people with my words and over-reactions to things. I don't want that to happen anymore. I want to be more cautious of the words that I say. The bible talks about the "tongue" (our words) ninety-three times. NINETY-THREE times!! I would say that God wants us to pay attention to what we say to others.

We carry around baggage. The baggage becomes too heavy to carry. We hate carrying this heavy load around. Instead of seeking God and asking Him to take the heavy burden we lash out at people. We hold on to hostility and hurt. We hold on to it like an old friend. We are so used to having them around that we just...can't...let...them...go. We take it out on our spouse, children, family, friends. We isolate ourselves from the world because we think that will make it all better. We tell others we are fine, when in reality we are dying inside. We want to scream for relief. We want to scream for help. We try to tell someone close to us that we are hurting but they don't understand. We get depressed and cry out to God for help.

I say all of this because I have been this person. It's an ugly place to be. It's a miserable place to be and it makes your whole life miserable. It makes those around you suffer as well. They suffer because they hate to see you hurting. Sure, we can pretend to have it all together. We can fake a smile and make small talk like nobody's business. Deep down...way deep down we are crying and hurting.

How do we get out of this slump? How do we move on and really deal with our issues? I will tell you how I do it. I give it all to God. If my husband isn't treating me the way I think he should treat me, if someone close to me passes away, if my children are too loud too often, if I have a past full of regrets and guilt...I give it to God. It is not my husband's responsibility to make me happy. Only God can bring true joy to my heart. If someone I love passes away it is sad. But, I have to know that it was God's plan. And, being a mother is not for the faint of heart (especially a mother of boys...LOL!). Get up each day and thank God for each of your blessings and know that no matter what your children will put you through today there is someone out there who would give anything to have your loud house full of children. If we have asked for forgiveness from God about past sins then that should be the end of it. God has forgotten it and so should we.

No, it's not easy. There are certain people that push your buttons easier than others. Some of them are unavoidable. I am telling you I have been there. I am learning to hold my tongue and to think about what I want to say before I say it. You can't take back words. You can't undo an argument. You cannot unwrite an email that was sent in anger and hurt. What you can do is think about what you want to say before you say it. And, if you have nothing nice to say, well then, don't say anything at all.

I also like to live by the rule of "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." -Romans 12:18. We can't possible live peaceable if we avoid others (on purpose), lash out at our loved ones, have feelings of anxiety, feelings of depression, anger toward others, etc. I don't think harboring anger, bitterness, and hatred is healthy. It is mentally unhealthy, emotionally unhealthy, and it can be physically unhealthy. Someone told me once that God doesn't care so much about your circumstances as your reactions to them. Great advice.

What does your baggage in your suitcase have in it? Bitterness, anger, resentment, hurt, regret, sadness? Give it to God. He wants to help you and wants you to be happy. We will all go through trials and hard times in life. If we hold on to it all and stuff it in our hearts it is not what God wants for us. Let. It. Go. Live your life with no regrets. Live your life full of love. This life is a short one. If there is someone you need to forgive, forgive them. If there is someone you need to talk to, do it. If there is bitterness in your heart, cut it out. God wants you to have healthy relationships and a healthy attitude. God made us in His image. Do you think He wants this for you? No, I personally don't think that.

If you are carrying around a heavy burden I am praying for you. Don't unpack that suitcase. Look to Jesus and everything else will fade away. Live your life to glorify Him. Love others with reckless abandon. It will be worth it.



No comments: