I had lunch with a good friend the other day and among our random ramblings about puns, Harry Potter, and firetrucks, he mentioned how refreshing it is to see a girl really eating a solid meal (he’s been dating around a bit). We talked about how we get full, metabolisms and such, and I mentioned something about my stomach being a bit messed up from past abuses of it. He paused for a moment, then simply said “baggage.” “Ah. Yes, we all have it!” I replied, to which he said (and I quote):
“Yes, everyone has baggage; you can either use it as luggage in your travels or let it weigh you down.”
I was rather impressed, as I adore a catchy and concise phrases that wrap a lot of things into a metephore-nutshell, and I let him know that through charades as I was chewing on a chicken sandwich.
Later, hanging out by myself, I came across a verse in Ecclesiastes 6, the 12th one to be exact: “For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?”
Yet again, the bible hit me with a handbag that contained a brick about something. It’s been a theme this past week in a subtle and obnoxious way that for some reason I have been in a more conversations that involve me revealing certain things that have happened to me or that I’ve struggled with to people who don’t really need to know. Usually I try to keep the messy parts of myself hidden, seeing as it’s messy and I don’t think anyone wants to deal with it. I can’t even deal with it sometimes! But the conversations have been more about the reveal than dealing with anything, more about practicing the art of trusting others to stick around when I am vulnerable, not necessarily to help and offer solutions, but to hopefully understand that I have these vulnerable spots or times and that I am a work in progress. It’s a scary thing for me, because so many friends have come and gone, and each time someone goes it hurts. It hasn’t stopped me from developing friendships before, but these days I have been more careful because I need more time to exercise my backbone.
So all the talking about personal struggles and baggage has come to this scripture and, per usual, a few little epiphanies. For instance, I constantly forget that it’s ok to be a work in progress. It’s not necessary to get over things in the same way as others, it’s personal. But being in the healing process doesn’t give anyone the right to place a judgment on the happenings that put them in their current situation. Only God knows what the occurrences in our lives are meant to bring us. And the healing process/being broken doesn’t give the right to check out on life. There are wonderful things in the world, beautiful things that we might only have the chance to experience once before our time is up. Healing/being broken does not equate to being a cripple.
So I don’t really mind stating that I am a work in progress. I have things that I’m dealing with that I may not want to broadcast. But that doesn’t mean I always resent these things; they remind me of lessons I learned the hard way, gives me stories to use to teach and connect with others. And since I’ve consciously decided to start pursuing a relationship with God again, I no longer have to shoulder everything myself. As a person who carried a fairly decent sized backpack through Boston yesterday, I’ll tell you what, it’s nice not to have everything on my shoulders anymore.