Friday, November 13, 2009

Phantom backpacks and changing lives.

I started off this morning with the plan of going to the library. I pulled up handy Mr. Google and I asked him how far it was from my house to the library. He said it was about 4 miles so I made up my mind that I could walk there.

So I grabbed my backpack and and headed out the door.

Turns out, Mr Google lies sometimes and it was 6.1 miles to my destination.

I sat outside the building trying to dry off some ( I was quite the attractive picture at the moment) then I went inside and rested a bit and found what I always find at a library. More books I'd like to read than time to read them. I selected about 7 books, checked out and loaded them into my backpack and began mentally preparing myself for the walk home.

I don't know if you caught the mention or not, but, I found 7 books... checked out 7 books... 7. Just so you know, 7 books are pretty heavy when you attempt to lug them 6.1 miles. About 2 miles into the journey I was thanking God that I never pursued the idea of joining the military. I'm pretty sure they make you do things like that on a regular basis.

I got home, finally, and I immediately got rid of the pack.

Here's the funny thing about that though...

Randomly, even hours later, I could feel that pack on my back. I would have swore it was still there, even though I knew it wasn't. My body just got used to the feel of the burden, it got used to being mindful that when I passed a tree branch I needed to make sure it didn't hit the pack on my way by. I took care of my pack. But suddenly, even without the pack I found myself watching, telling myself not to lean back, don't roll over, all to protect my phantom backpack.

I couldn't help but think how, even after God delivers us, pulls some burden we've carried so long off our backs, that we still have those phantom burdens - only it's not as easy to know that it's a phantom rather than the real thing.

I was thinking about my post yesterday, about some of the struggles I've faced and I knew that I couldn't blame the devil for all of them. I've created so many of my own obstacles that you'd think I was into professional obstacle course building... And I wondered how many times in life God pulled my burdensome pack off my back only to find me still tending to some phantom pack until the devil was finally able to put it back on me again.

A friend of mine posted something on her Facebook that I wanted to share with you:
"'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.' Marianne Williamson

As we tend our wounds, as we carry our baggage around, whether phantom or not, we miss out on something especially incredible - Being all God wants us to be.
Some of you carry around the baggage that you'll never find who you're meant to marry. Others of you carry around baggage of fear that everyone will hurt you. Maybe you're more like me in that your baggage is a heavy shield meant to protect you from all the world can throw at you. Those shields are too heavy to carry for distance. I'm learning how to lay mine down. And whatever baggage you're holding onto, whatever is in that backpack of yours; whether anger, self-pity, hurt, fear, rejection, shame, guilt... ask God to help you lay it down, just like I did with my guilt awhile back.

But when He does it, you and I always have to be diligent to remember what God has done for us. And what's done is done. So when that phantom guilt, phantom fear starts to haunt you then you can just remember "Oh that's right, I'm not afraid anymore." And so on...

It seems silly, even as I type it. And perhaps I just handle my issues in unusual ways and no one else connects with what I'm saying. But for me, so often I've had to just stop myself and remind myself "NO, I'm not THAT anymore." The phantoms appear out of nowhere, in situations where you'd least expect it, and your reality shakes for a moment - and in that moment you either concede to what the devil tells you or you remind him that you're not who you used to be by the grace of God.

For me, I tell the devil that I'm not alone anymore. For years I've faced the world under the assumption that if I couldn't do it on my own it wouldn't be done. I've told myself that if I fall on my face that I'm the only one who can pick me up so I had to watch how far I flew, how fast, and what loads I carried.

But I am not alone. There are people, and the number has grown in the last two years, that if I found myself in need of help I could call and at least one would be available to help me.

Even now, I'm more tempted than ever to erase those two paragraphs, but with sick to my stomach determination I say that the pack is not there anymore. I won't put it back on, and I won't erase my written confidence in it.

It's among the difficult things in life to do, so I don't know if you'll join me or not - but do you have any packs you want to lay down?


T. Sivad said...

Sadly, for me, I have no one to call. I'm battling this war with only myself and God. And, I'm sensing I'm slowly losing the battle and war. Too many backpacks to carry and not enough energy to lift. They're too tangled to just shed one-by-one and wrap around me to just toss off all at once. And, not a clue which way I'm going. Too many backpacks to sort through and decide which ones I should keep and which ones to throw away. Sometimes, I feel like just falling down under the weight and give up. There are too many...God...just too many.

flyawaynet said...

I don't presume to know your situation T. So while what I'm about to say might sound harsh, please know I simply mean it with a helpful spirit and I'm only conveying to you what sin I have discovered in myself.

Too often, I've held onto a heavy pack just waiting for someone else to take it off me. For someone else to look on me and tell me I had value. I waited for someone else to say the words that would make me feel validated, important. And without it, I held onto the fear and shame of other events that told me I had no value, that I was just a tool to be used and never appreciated for simply what I was.

My healing has come, and my friendships have come, as I let go of those expectations on people. My value comes from God, He validates me. And when I spend my life, my days, chasing after Him and His plans for my life I find that my pack carrying my shame and guilt gets lighter and lighter.

But when I sought others to constantly reassure me to make my load lighter I noticed that my load only seemed heavier as if it took more reassurance every day to maintain my ability to carry the load. It also stunted my friendships because I placed such heavy burdens on those who would have been a friend to me.

Again, I know little about the burdens you carry - I can only tell you what I faced and learned. It is incredibly hard to not see the world through a lens of me and my pain and see the world from the perspective of helping someone else. I'm praying for you.

Seek God with the intention of finding Him. Set aside time, not 15 - 30 minutes of time, but time hours, days, weeks where you seek deliverance from your burdens and restoration. Fast and pray. Sometimes it's just ridiculous how long we're willing to be dead and dying, hurting and broken, because we don't want to spend the time trying to find God and fix what's broken. Only God can do it. I can't, but I have to be willing to let go and let it stay gone.

I say this as much to you (as much as may apply that is) as I do to myself. I'm the last person to give advice on this subject, but it's my blog and you're here. I don't speak with any kind of arrogance that I've come through and this is the map to do it. I speak as someone who God touched. I only know what God has done for me, and I know He can do the same for all of us. Every time.