It’s time for the holidays!
Recently, I went home for Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the time spent with my family, and I got back to my apartment Sunday night for work on Monday morning. That was probably the routine for many of you who don’t live in the same city as a majority of your family. You pack up before the holiday. Then you get back to reality. Well, this time it wasn’t all the way back to reality for me. After the Thanksgiving holiday, I unloaded my car of the luggage I had taken home. I had grabbed somethings from the store, so I had a few loose bags to get. I had a purse, coffee mug, and water bottle. Hands and arms full. I got inside, dropped everything at my closet door and proceeded to prep for the next day of work.
The clothes in the suitcase were already clean. I had no urgency to put away any of the things I bought. I didn’t need that coffee mug; it wasn’t even my favorite. The water bottle was empty and easy to throw away, so I did that. But now there were a mound of shopping bags, a suitcase, a gym bag, and coffee cup sitting at the door of my closet. I had not unpacked my bags. As if I wasn’t home. As If I wasn’t going to stay. As though these bags and lose articles did not exist.
The next morning, I grabbed the coffee mug and put it in the sink to be washed. That was all the progress made on that mound. For a week, I stepped around this heap of stuff. I ignored a mountain of things that needed attention. I went out of my way to step over and push to the side my unpacked life. Why? It was an inconvenience to take time to unpack my bag. God forbid it gets messier before it gets cleaner. I literally looked at this mountain of things and audibly said ‘I don’t have time tonight to do it. I’ll do it tomorrow. It is not really in my way.’ Ultimately, I just didn’t want to.
For me, those bags represented so much more in my life. I have looked at pride, hurt, shame, ignorance, racism, and lust in my own heart and stepped over it. I moved certain people that carried their own messiness and difficulty off to the side. Situations that required delicate unraveling were easily stepped over. How often, like my luggage, do we move around, past, blatantly ignore the unrepentant sin, hurt, shame, unforgiveness, and injustice? Many times, it is more comfortable to avoid and ignore than to confront and change.
When will we do the work that is needed to unpack those bags? What does it take?
First you need the strength to address a problem. Just to acknowledge the mound of distrust, hurt, and pain takes a lot of mental strength. To actually go over, touch this pile, and assess it can take energy, time, and effort that you did not plan to exude. The only way to gain this courage is through the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit will give you the strength to take the first step toward removing daunting years and years of hurt, pain, and confusion. Courage to discuss your past with the person that offended you, can only happen through the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit lead and guide you to a hopeful resolution.
At some point, you will realize you can’t tackle every issue on your own. This is when your brothers and sisters in Christ come alongside you to encourage and correct you. Their support and love will give you the courage and strength to continue to unpack those bags. Your friends are more than a group to ‘do life with you.’ This family of yours will assist in getting into the trenches of your heart. They will hold a heavy bag if you want them to. Because they love you, they want to see you growing and not being held down by burdens in your heart. Trust that your friends are showing you Jesus when they give you tough love. Sometimes, you need it. Let them love you well by bearing your burdens or bags with you.
The courage to address issues you’d rather ignore and the community to aide you overcome would be all in vain if there is no commitment. At some point, you get tired of ignoring and neglecting this mountain of negativity in the middle of your life. You need a vital level of commitment to clearing a cluttered area. There is no set timeline of events. There is not a 3 step process for everything. It may take months or even years to get rid of some of the clutter, but it will be worth it.
What does clearing your life look like?
Some hard conversations must be had. Some situations may get messier. Some people will love you. Some people will leave you. What you will know is that you are addressing those things in your heart and life that require attention and change. Do not be discouraged from the task at hand. Nothing is too messy, too sinful, too surprising, or just too big for God. Know that He already sees the junk you try to ignore, and He loves you anyway. Let that be the driving force you need to unpack your bags.