Wise counsel came from friends and family as I began to pack for my 16-day dream trip to Italy and France. “Don’t pack too much! You’ll have to drag it with you everywhere you go.” “Be sure to have a nice outfit and your essentials in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage is lost.”
Well, if you know me at all, workout gear is essential! I also managed to squeeze in a nicer outfit in my carry-on as well...just in case. Turns out, it’s a good thing I listened to my well-meaning friends because, to my dismay, my luggage was actually lost!! Thankfully, it was returned to me only hours later. Imagine my joy as I made my way to the hotel from a bit of sightseeing and dinner to find that my luggage had arrived in Venice and now sat safely in my room in just the perfect spot. I didn’t even have to move it until we left for Florence 2 days later.
Venice was just as I had seen it in the paintings that hang on my walls at home. So serene and lovely, breathtaking really. Days later, I reorganized my bag in preparation for our new destination only to discover my luggage was returned to me damaged! The wheels were broken on my 49.9999999 pound bag (I didn’t listen to the piece of advice about not overpacking...I mean a girl needs her outfits and most importantly her matching shoes!) Once again, I gave thanks as my strong 6 foot 2 friend, John, graciously volunteered to help lug my ridiculously heavy luggage to the train station without functional wheels.
Due to the late discovery, there was no time to purchase a new bag at that time. It wasn’t door to train service either. We hiked up quite a hill and had to walk a good distance to get there. Why am I sharing all this? It’s a picture of what our lives can be like. The heaviest weight we carry in life is unforgiveness toward others and even ourselves. In fact, the weight of guilt and shame may be the heaviest weight of all.
Often we don’t acknowledge that grudges against others, ourselves, and even God are there at all. What many of us do instead is bury the hurts and disappointments in life with food or drink that never seem to fully satisfy and end up causing more regret and pain later. Just like my damaged luggage, we can go days (if not years) failing to realize that our “wheels” (hearts) are broken. The hard truth is, if we don’t deal with the pain of past experiences in our lives, we are doomed to carry that weight with us to our next destination. Sadly, all too often, the people that we're in relationship with end up carrying the heavy load as well, whether they want to or not!
Do yourself a favor and unpack any unforgiveness in your heart. Holding on to the hurts of the past leaves little room for the joy and good plans that God desires for your future. Lighten the load on yourself and others with a heart that says, "I choose forgiveness."
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).