Birthdays & Baggage

This morning I have been up early praying and thinking and journaling. I just celebrated a birthday and I find it so fascinating that the older I get, the more I realize how much baggage I carry. With each year, as I attempt to become more present to myself (my emotions, my thought processes, my past), I discover more and more ways that I long to be stripped of some of this stuff that I unknowingly have packed in my many bags along the way. I have bags upon bags of experiences, wounds, misbeliefs, hangups that I so often don’t even realize I’m bringing into the room with me…or even more poignantly, into a relationship with me.

And yet, and yet. I’m grateful for age because as I grow older, I’m becoming so much more aware of the baggage I’ve collected. I can now even call out some of it by name. In fact, I’ve discarded quite a lot  of it already! Some of the bags have been habits that once worked for me, but I’ve since grown out of…others have been stuff I never intended to carry– in fact, sometimes it has been someone else’s stuff that I was given and just carried along with me, without even questioning why I was carrying someone else’s things.

But I’m grateful. Grateful that with age has come an increasing boldness to shed all this extra stuff. Its amazing what actually *looking* at your emotional baggage (I kind of hate that phrase, actually, but it serves a good visual and symbolic purpose at this point) will do for you…and how freeing it is to realize that you don’t actually have to hold onto it.

But I think we get so daunted by the painfulness of really looking into our experiences…and we don’t know how to hold the pain with the good–especially when it comes to our families…its hard to acknowledge both the pain and love that can co-exist. So, our baggage collects and gets bigger and bigger. And the longer we go not looking at it, the more scary it becomes.

So again, I’m grateful. Grateful that with age–and God’s grace, I’m not afraid to look at my crap. Well, that’s not true. Sometimes I really am afraid– the same old track plays in my head…”if you look at this [choose your own adventure: the brokenness in this relationship, the pain, the unhealthy habit I’ve formed and feel unable to reverse etc. etc.]  you won’t be able to handle all that comes with really looking at it. and you’ll be worse off than you were before.” But what’s so incredible is how shallow a lie that thought is…because once you begin to make sense of something broken, it actually can begin to heal…and the momentum of that healing makes it possible to look at something else, and something else…once you really confront that lie of not being able to handle it, you realize how much more capable you are to handle anything, really.

 

AndI feel so so grateful because truly, with each year, I feel more and more capable…to boldly to look at my stuff, make a little (prayerful) sense of it, and oftentimes, leave it behind.

I undo the buckles, I unzip the seam, I take out the things that don’t fit anymore or were never mine to carry…and I move on, knowing that I am stronger for having examined and assessed it….and more alive for having done so. To move forward without excess and to live more and more as the person I was created to be. Free.

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2 thoughts on “Birthdays & Baggage

  1. Well said, Catherine 🙂 What a thoughtful birthday post! I definitely agree that with more time comes more self-awareness, and much of being “self-aware” is understanding what is alive within you: both good and bad. I sometimes struggle with accepting the fact that we all are sinners and sin against one another and God. As if somehow, if we learned enough or tried hard enough, we could just… stop. If only that were the case 😉 But far better than if that were true is God’s salvation on our behalf. I pray that as you “look” at your bags, that you feel the freedom of God’s passionate and undeserved grace. Happy Happy Birthday, Catherine. And to many more!

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