I’ve never been a big travel kind of guy.
Many people like to go from place to place and see sights in different countries and cities. As for me, I have always been one of those boring stay at home people that grumbles any time they have to pack a suitcase and plan for another outing. Being a pastor does mean travel can happen often. Whether it’s meetings, conferences, continuing education, we often have to pack those bags and go.
I think the worst part of packing is trying to decide what to take. I try my best to think about the events I’ll be taking part in and how many days I’ll be gone. Will it be three days? Should I pack for four? Will the day’s events call for casual wear? Should I bring a tie? How does one pack a suit without getting it wrinkled? Then it’s the question of bags. Do I need to bring more than one? Can I find a way to cram everything into a small carry on?
No matter how much planning and guessing I do, there never seems to be a trip where I don’t forget something. It also seems that no matter where I go or for how long I am gone, I always bring back things in my bag that I had packed but never used. Proving that, no matter how much one plans, one can never predict the future.
Days are like traveling. Each day we travel into the next 24 hours of our future. We move into a new day and a new beginning. We travel from our yesterday into our today. We face the predictable and the unpredictable. We deal with the known and the unknown. We face our joys and our fears. No one ever knows what a new day will bring. Therefore, we can never know for sure what to pack for each new day.
What do you choose to take with you with each new day? What do you keep packing away each night to bring with you the next morning? How much baggage do you plan for? What are you packing things that you may not need? What have you left back that you could use?
If we did look at each day as a new trip than we could look at our bags and a metaphor for our hearts, feelings, thoughts, and even souls. Are we taking a good look at what we pack in with new day?
For some of us, we pack things we definitely do not need. When I pack for trips I often take an extra pair of pants, just in case I spill something. I once went through a drive thru and spilled mustard on my lap before arriving to a conference. Thinking back to that, I now bring extras, just in case.
But what if I also brought with me the feelings associated with that drive thru experience? What if, for every trip, I carried with me the shock and anger of spilling something? What if I hung on to the embarrassment and felt that way every time I went to a conference? What if I started each trip with the extra emotions left over from trips before? Emotions I didn’t need.
With each day, are we bringing along feelings and emotions from past events that really aren’t needed in our new day? Do we repack things from other days? Other trips? Things that only make our baggage heavier and unnecessarily more difficult to carry?
For some of us, our bags are filled at the start of each new day with things like guilt, sadness, anger, resentment, regret, prejudices, judgments, hurt, loneliness, pride, arrogance, insecurities, etc.
Every day we begin with our bags filled to the brim, full of things that we should be getting rid of. Things that only fill our bags and prevent us from packing anything new. We are unable to bring in fresh feelings and thoughts because our bags are too full. We pack, thinking we need to hang on to things and we end each day wishing we had more room for new experiences.
Today, I would like to encourage us all to take a look at what we are packing. Take an inventory of everything we bring with us from one day to another. I would like to encourage us all to get rid of the baggage we do not need.
Sometimes getting rid of the extra baggage, means sharing with someone we trust. Talking to a close friend or counselor. It means having conversations about the feelings we are holding onto and gaining closure from their release. By talking, we can feel and get rid of the toxins that keep our bags full. We can work through things and move forward.
Sometimes removing items means apologizing to someone we have harmed and owning our own behavior so we can correct mistakes. Sometimes it means admitting we were wrong.
Sometimes we can lighten our load by choosing to be open to new thoughts, experiences, and people. In a way we can exchange our old ideas with new ones and see things a different way. We can expand on our circles of friendships and open our doors to fresh possibilities.
Sometimes it means moving away from something or allowing something to move in.
For the next few hours, I invite us all to pray. To ask God what we should be packing and what we can remove from our bags. The Lord knows our hearts and minds. He knows what lifts our spirits, and what weights them down. He also knows all about the future and what our days will bring. He knows when we plan well, and he knows when we make mistakes.
He knows because he is with us in every trip we make. He knows because he owns the suitcases we carry. I pray we all ask Him how we can lighten our loads.