Lighten Your Bag

In preparing for this school year each one of my children needed a new backpack. The older two needed backpacks that could carry more books and supplies, my youngest had outgrown her themed backpack. I shopped around for ones that would meet their individual needs. Right before school started they each loaded their backpacks. In this whole process of getting ready for the year I began to think of all the things I hoped they would leave behind. Life has given them each so much extra baggage wrapped in pain, I often cry when I think back to the day I met each of them while remembering their circumstances. I continue to pray that they will be able to unload some if not all the extra weight. I realize that their stories cannot be changed and I do not begin to pretend that they will not struggle from time to time. As most mothers, I hurt when my kids hurt. More than likely they will often carry more than they should have to. The loss of their bio parents and the neglect they experienced have created a weight that is difficult to put down without guidance and love. Their losses are greater than most typical children their age. They carry an excess amount of pain that even I struggle to understand why my children should have to be weighted down so heavily.

When I was in school I carried a lot of extra baggage myself, although some of the weight I carried was packaged differently it was labeled the same. Loss, loneliness, the feeling of unworthiness. I was a mother at 14 so my backpack was very full before I entered high school. I had some friends but I didn’t have anyone that I could truly relate with. Walking down the the halls with a very pregnant belly was a heavy load all by itself. The weight that was in my backpack outweighed my unborn child. No matter the plans that I believed would play out, and the support I believed I had, I felt alone. Behind my smile was a very scared young girl. I struggled to know where I belonged while in the walls of a school building. On the days that I was reminded of all that had changed for me and all that would change, I loaded my backpack with shame and guilt. I could feel it getting heavier and heavier each time I passed the teachers or peers that refused to greet me with kindness. As I walked down the hall I would grab more and more guilt and shame. By the time I was home my shoulders hurt from the extra weight I had packed in. At home I tried to teach myself to unload and not place all those feelings back to carry again. The very next day I would start the process all over again.

I would love to say that I have mastered unloading my backpack and keeping it light. The truth is that I transformed my bag all together, It is smaller and it has different compartments to it. It has secret pockets some with zippers and some with snaps. In the new bag that I carry I do not allow myself to carry so much stuff. In some of the secret places I have the tough stuff, it’s still there. At times I can use it as a reminder of who I once was and to share it as a learning tool. I also carry a bigger load of Grace. This is carried in the biggest compartment of my bag. I fill enough for myself and for others around me. The beautiful thing about Grace is that it is light and fluffy. It weighs very little and it covers over the heavy stuff. I now have to dig through Grace first in order to find the smaller compartments filled with the heavy stuff. I love grace, it brings beauty to my bag.

I will encourage my children to make their backpacks lighter. I will show them to carry Grace, compassion, and mercy by teaching them that they should not overload their bags, it will only bring them more pain. I want them to share what they have in their bags, to take out the heavy stuff to expose it, maybe they will choose to leave it out realizing it’s painful weight.

As I watch them leave for the first time this year I whisper a prayer in each bag. Asking God to guide and protect them.

Even though my bag is now smaller and its contents are slightly different, I can use my past experiences to guide them in downsizing their loads. I do not have the same kind of stuff that they have but I do understand some of their pains and I seek to understand the pain I have not experienced personally.

This new school year gives my family opportunities to grow and to let go of weight. Putting down loss and feelings of loneliness and unworthiness.

Is there stuff you need to stop carrying around? Is there stuff you set down but then come the very next day and put right back in your bag?

Together let’s take an inventory of these items and dig into why we continue to carry them. Let’s take time to acknowledge our loved ones carrying extra baggage and help them unload.

I cannot imagine how much faster we will Keep Rolling toward our goals when we are free from the heavy load.