Packing for a recent writer’s conference out of state was record breaking for me. Everything I took was contained in one carry-on suitcase – clothing, toiletries and even an extra bag for on the way home! For a “clothes-horse” like me, that was a miracle.
I’ve often compared our life back-story as baggage we hauled into our marriage. Watching others lug a gigantic suitcase, or 3-piece luggage sets off the baggage carousel made me think of when I left home after high school.
Emotionally battered, it felt like I was hauling the entire carousel on my shoulders! One side affect of abuse is a confusing longing to be accepted and loved despite being told I was worthless. Longingly, I’d watched others who were popular and well liked. There seemed to be three types – rich, loose and good. Since I’d been told most of life that I was not and could not be good, strike one. I was not rich, strike two. I tried for loose, but found I couldn’t even do that right when I “tried out” for the local gang, and failed the first step – to inhale a cigarette.
Now I’m grateful for that failure, but at the time, it added another rock to the weight of baggage I was carrying. Obsessing over clothing and makeup got attention, but not the kind I wanted. Ironic isn’t it – that I would add artificiality to my body, and then be surprised and disappointed when the response was also artificial.
Finally I made friends with a ‘good’ girl at school. She was not loose or rich, she dressed modestly and did not attend dances or do things to attract the boys’ attention, but she was well liked, because she was genuine. Loreen’s popularity did not depend on the ‘right’ clothing or layering on a new exterior. She had an otherworldly happiness and an inward beauty that did not need to ‘seek after its own’ attention. Her quiet confidence in Christ and lack of baggage gave me hope. Then I met Ken.
We had a quick courtship (engaged 3 months after we met) and agreed we needed a spiritual standard for our marriage to present our children. We agreed the Bible was God’s Word and began reading, obeying and applying it. The more we learned about the Lord and His love for us, the more we loved him, and trusted Him to carry another batch of that baggage.
It’s been some years since all that began, and the many stories of specific events of “losing’ or giving up that baggage – and learning to make the choice to leave it in the “unclaimed baggage center” would take up far too much space here.
My trip to New Mexico was a definite illustration of emotional healing – as I left the airport carrying less baggage than ever before I thanked God it was more than an illustration – I’m truly lighter– inside and out.