Insights: Baggage

Do you know that one of the most debilitating things in life is baggage? Baggage is great for air travel, but I’m talking about mental, emotional and social baggage. That kind of baggage is a problem in life, because we are creatures who tend to hold onto baggage and even nurture it along. If we would let go of ours, we would have much better relationships, accomplish much more and have so much more joy in life! Yet, we like to hold on and it weighs us down.

Baggage comes in many forms and affects us like bricks in a backpack. A primary source of this burden is from words spoken in soured relationships. The baggage affects us mentally in our thoughts, emotionally in our stability and outlook for the future, and socially as we relate (or don’t relate) with others. Some of this baggage is shed when we move onto another job, move to a different location, or move onto new relationships.

Some baggage is let go only by forgiving the offender. Most of us can forgive, but it is grace of God, which is needed to forgive someone for the same thing, especially when the same offense happens many times in a short amount of time or regularly over several years.

Yes, Jesus said, I do not say to you, up to seven times [forgive someone], but up to seventy times seven. (Matt 18:22 NKJ) That is the point of it. He wants us to live like God, so He sets the standard of continuing to forgive. However, we are not often able to forgive that many times. Our flesh feels the sting and can’t understand why “anyone” would do what that person did.

Now there are likely many reasons why some carry more baggage and carry it longer than others. I don’t want to get into psychobabble, but I imagine some temperaments are better at it than others. Some “melancholic” types are perfectionists are likely quicker to hold onto the immediate, short term offenses and get under the pile. The “phlegmatic,” easy-going types may not carry as much, but once they get it on their back, they stubbornly refuse to let go. The “choleric,” driving domineering types may push through life with their loaded backpack and not think others know how much it is affecting them, but you can see it when they collapse under the pressure. Then the expressive “sanguine” types may laugh off much of it, but their roller coaster life often hides their hurt and pain, until they fall apart in tears for being mistreated. I don’t like to generalize, but people DO respond different ways according to their strengths and weaknesses, when under the control of their flesh or sin nature. That is what the temperament descriptions are – simply observations of people at their best (or worst), when under control of the flesh or sin nature.

I also wouldn’t want to merely characterize people according to the well known five love languages. But I wonder if those who are driven by “quality time” are more easily offended than someone who is pulled toward “gift giving.” Or maybe someone who is best loved by “encouraging words” is more devastated by discouraging words and carries that sack of bricks higher on his shoulders. These categories that were mentioned help us to understand our behavior, but it really gets down to the flesh versus the filling of the Spirit. Those who are filled with the Spirit will deal with each situation as it happens and continue to love as Jesus loved.

Baggage is really what people carry because they have not been discipled according to God’s love, especially as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul wrote,

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NKJ)

God’s love is patient and considers what is done or said with God’s filter. God’s love does not seek for itself, but for others. It does not keep track of wrong-doings. It lives under the pressures of life circumstances. It believes the best about words spoken. It hopes for the best in what others say and do. And it endures misunderstandings and wrongs done for the sake of the relationship, so that the oneness that Jesus desires (John 17:20-23) will be attained and maintained. God’s love never fails when others do.

Cast all your baggage on Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

2 thoughts on “Insights: Baggage

  1. “I don’t like to generalize, but people DO respond different ways.” This is so true. Most people don’t get it though. Often, when I’m in grief or despair over something, the common response I get is, “Don’t worry about it!” or “Get over it!” “Don’t take too long to grieve, it’s a waste of time!” or “You should be thankful you have it so much better than others.” People don’t get that pain is pain, and that we each have a different way of dealing and processing it. Especially when you’re looking to heal and learn and grow from it, it takes time. It’s frustrating a lot of times when there’s so much lack of empathy out there. But I realise that the way they are towards others, is the way they are towards themselves. They’re just being them. And I get to be patient when they try to “advice” instead of just listen. And I get to unpack my load, according to my pace…

    So what you pointed out on melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric and sanguine, that’s insightful. Something to keep in mind next time I get a little frustrated by these exasperating responses… :- )

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