I used to think that pride was the root of humanity’s problems. That somehow ego was the enemy of relationships. I am learning however, that it is indeed deeper than that. Pride was the downfall of satan. Shame is what he uses to keep us from becoming who we were created to be. It was not pride that made Eve eat the apple it was curiosity. Perhaps it was a lack of trust in God’s goodness, but not pride, Eve didn’t even know what pride was yet.
We all know what came after Adam and Eve ate that apple. Everything changed. The change started internally. The fabric of their souls was ripped from God’s and they knew what it meant to feel separated from the one they loved. And now in turn, we know that feeling as well. We know what it means to feel shame. And we see the outward manifestation of that inward darkness. It’s why we do everything we can to keep barriers between us and the ones that we claim to love. It’s why we want so desperately to be known and yet feel invisible so many days. It’s why we secretly cringe at the word intimacy.
With shame we believe that if we just keep certain parts of ourselves hidden, that we can attain that which we desire, intimacy. But shame will only bring hiding and hidden things remain in the dark, and darkness does not breed the intimacy we desire. Like all living and healthy things, our insides, our souls, need light. The light that comes from revealing the darkness and letting the healing grace from another wash away our shame. Ultimately the healing starts with confession to a loving God. But I believe that the process is completed when we trust the grace in another’s heart. In trusting others we allow God to physically manifest His love and forgiveness to us. We begin to see that God really is love, really is grace, really is forgiveness. When we allow others the chance to show us the proof of God’s grace we can begin to let go of our baggage and be free.
Baggage is a term that has been used a lot to describe the hurts, wounds, and fears that we have accumulated and learned over our lifetime. How much baggage we come with depends on our life circumstances. Some baggage is thrust upon us, and some is chosen. But all baggage can be minimized and left behind. How much we carry is our choice.
My sister and I recently helped a friend move. To me moving means a time to sort and clear out the clutter. To “purge.” A time to decide what is important and what is not. I never want someone to look at boxes and boxes of old dirty things that seemingly have no purpose and wonder why I am lugging them to yet another location. Unnecessary baggage, is what seemed to be everywhere during this moving experience with my sister’s friend. Literally half a truck full of boxes filled with dirty, old junk. Things that looked like they should have been given to the goodwill in the 90’s. Yet here it was causing more work, more time, more frustration.
It dawned on me carting those boxes around, that this is what our lives look like when we do not take the time to sort and discard. Instead of a backpack, or even a small Uhaul, we wind up with two or more Uhauls filled with junk that WE WANT to get rid of but just feel so overwhelmed by that we do nothing. When we choose to do nothing the weight and the junk pile on, more and more and more, heavier and heavier and heavier. This extra “junk” does not just weigh us down, but also the ones closest to us. Because we have to continually ask for help moving stuff we shouldn’t be moving. Sorting is hard work. Disposing sometimes even harder as it requires uncovering past hurts, regrets, and other painful things. But when we drag all of that STUFF into the light of day, the hours of time we spend initially, will allow us to live lighter, freer, happier, and truer lives. Lives lived in community with others. Truly known, truly loved.
I write this for you and I write this for myself. I do not want to live in the shadows anymore. Making decisions out of fear. Fear that my shame will be known, that something will come out in the light that will make me unlovable, undesirable. The truth is, we all have shame and baggage. It’s time we started helping one another cart that stuff to the dump. Calling it what it is, trash we do not need any more. When we recognize those hidden things it’s time to bring them to the light. Find a person of grace and ask for their help in “sorting.” People who have “spring cleaned” their own souls contain the grace to love others despite their junk. We don’t have to act like we or others around us are perfect anymore. Freedom comes in knowing none of us are perfect, and loving them, and ourselves, in spite of our imperfections.
It is time to live in the light. It is time to live in community. It is time to leave our love on for ourselves and others.
May we live in the light.