It’s a fact—a fact of life—a biblical fact—and a fact of wisdom—that, we, imperfect ones as we are, in comparison to a perfect God, have the ongoing need of healing.
We need healing because we have a propensity to not cope well with the hurts of life.
We are all susceptible to rejection, and our need of acceptance drives whether we cope or not. The hurts of life we don’t cope with can develop into baggage that we carry around with us, weighing us down, and it wrecks our lives in so many ways.
None of us arrives at emotional maturity without significant effort in resolving the emotional baggage in our lives. Indeed, we must become adept at recognising our brokenness, acknowledging it, and learning in an ongoing sense how to deal with it.
The truth must reign. As far as the hurts of life are concerned it is more about us and much less about the other person. When we are emotional our opportunity is to ask, “What’s going on with/in me?” This question—and not the question, “What’s wrong with them?”—is the key to our contentment.
The Way Baggage Works
The classic indication of emotional baggage is the emotional response. Whenever we react angrily, with resentment, in complaint, or in frustration, etc, we really need to check if baggage underpins it.
Have we flown off the handle at someone? Regardless whether they are right or wrong to ‘provoke’ us, our reaction to them could well be based in something we are not coping with. It’s more about what’s going on in us. It’s not about them at all.
So, emotional problems underlie so many of our thoughts and feelings of poor self-concept, hurts, disappointments, and resentments, etc.
The quandary is we may not even recognise our emotional problems as indicators of baggage, because it is so easy to blame other people, because no one is perfect. There is always some fault we can find with another person. We miss the point if we don’t look at our baggage that props up much of our negative emotional response.
Emotional baggage wrecks our lives at least three ways:
1. We struggle to get free from the thoughts and feelings of damage and hurt that we continue to carry. Our baggage interrupts the relationship of peace we could otherwise have with ourselves. We are too easily hurt, disappointed, frustrated, and are too often impatient. We are not gracious with others mostly because we don’t extend grace to ourselves in those moments.
2. Relational conflict with other people is almost certain when we are susceptible to what they say and do. When conflict arises and we don’t deal with it that well we can expect it to become entrenched. Baggage creates a situation where hurt people hurt people. Two hurt parties can do nothing to reconcile if they insist on remaining hurt (or even if one does). The amount of conflict we have in our lives can be an indicator of our baggage.
3. Most of all, we cannot get close to God if we haven’t dealt with our hurts; not having been honest with the Lord or with ourselves. But a passage to a better relationship with God is afforded us when we have been honest about the things we need to be healed of. God heals us to the perfect extent of our solemn repentance.
Emotional baggage plagues us mentally and spiritually. It damages the inner peace we could have with ourselves, creates conflict in our relationships, and separates us from having an intimate relationship with God. Healing is what we need. Turn it over to the One who saves you from the grips of your hurt—Jesus. In Jesus there is release from the baggage we’ve carried for so long. Jesus’ burden is both easy and light.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to Anthony Palmieri, Senior Pastor, Lakeside Baptist Church, Perth, Western Australia.