Carrying My Blue Bag
Hair dryer. Check. Extra clothes. Check. Extra medicine. Check. Extra everything. Check.
I lugged my heavy blue suitcase through the airport terminal. On my back was a green, camping backpack with two changes of clothes, a rain jacket, towel, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, journal, pen, bible, and toilet paper. I checked the heavy blue bag with the airline representative and ventured through the airport security line.
When my plane landed in China, I drug my heavy suitcase off the conveyor belt and heaved it into the taxi’s trunk. Our home base for the next five weeks was a missionary’s residence in Kunming where I set my blue bag in a corner.
The next morning’s instructions were clear, “Only carry what you can handle on your back for eight hours or more a day. Only the necessities, because no one wants to carry your stuff and theirs.”
For five weeks I lived out of my green backpack. I learned how to wash my body, hair, and clothes with only a bar of soap. Bathing happened occasionally, so I became well acquainted with wearing clothes several days in a row. There were no flushing toilets, only squatty potties, even at the hotels.
Life became simple out of necessity. The load I carried in my bag had to be manageable as we spent most of the days hiking up mountains to remote villages. It’s amazing how light the load can become when we intentionally shed items we no longer find essential.
Recently I have allowed my emotional shoulders to resemble the blue suitcase. I’ve spent months shoving everything I thought necessary into this extremely full, emotional duffle bag. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Worry. Control. Lots of control. And lots more control. Unknown outcomes. Expectations. Guilt.
These heavy weights have pressed in from every side and my outlook has gotten foggy. A sadness that I couldn’t shake hung over every activity I was involved in.
Finally, the load became too much, and I was tired of having no joy.
A dear counselor and friend firmly reminded me, “You’re laying it all on the altar, but you aren’t leaving it there. Stop picking it back up and let Jesus carry it for you.” She was right.
But sometimes I don’t like the way God is working all things out for His good, and I think He needs a little advice—my advice. I’ll admit, I have major control issues and I feel the need to attempt to control outcomes and situations that are completely out of my purview. And the more I fight to retain my grip, the greater my discontent and sadness.
After several days of wrestling, I decided to leave my blue suitcase on the altar. For real. No more taking it back. No more carrying that load—and everyone else’s for that matter.
Life became simple again out of necessity. Even though my world is spinning out of control with waiting and unknowns at every level, my load is light again. Because I’m not carrying it anymore. He is.
Joy is returning. Hope is blooming again. And even though I am constantly fighting the need to control everything, I find myself stopping in the middle of chaos, and whispering, “I trust you, God.”
It’s amazing how light the load can become when we intentionally shed items we no longer find essential. We just have to lay it down and leave it there.
What do you need to put on the altar this week?