Unpacking Our Backpacks

Psalm 113:4 (the message)
God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies.

I am not a marvelous housekeeper.  There.  I said it.  Well, wrote it.

Last night I listened to a powerful message at our church’s “Chick Night” for the ladies.  The guest speaker talked about our complete approval in God.  Towards the end of the service, as many of us responded by writing something personal regarding the message on a piece of white paper and pinning to a wooden cross, I noticed the tear-stained faces.  The swollen eyes.  As I made my way back to my chair and stood in worship, I noticed women with their arms around one another, some hugging and crying.  I closed my eyes and soaked in not just God’s presence, but the fact that being a woman can be hard…for all of us. 

This morning I realized I had not gone through Rivers’ backpack all weekend.  Every Friday she brings her work home and I sign a folder so her teacher knows I saw it.  I lifted her bag and noticed it seemed heavy.  Sure enough I emptied out extra books, a fleece pullover, chapstick, random jewelry and a rather heavy toy!  A bunch of stuff she has accumulated that was no doubt getting hard to carry and slowing her down.  As I unpacked her bag, I thought of the extra weight we carry on our souls as women.  I thought of the message last night.  I thought how most of us need to start unpacking our backpacks.

So, I am going to start us off.  I am not a fantabulous housekeeper.  My kitchen floor needs to be mopped but rarely is.  My fridge needs to be cleaned out but I can’t slide it out far enough to get the side door all the way open and get the crisper drawers out, so it hasn’t been done.  I have stacks of books and mail and gifts I don’t know what to do with.  My side porch entrance greets incomers with several pairs of shoes, toys and Dixie’s crate (our chocolate lab).  Can you say Sanford and Son??!  (Ok not that bad but feels like it sometimes!) Why am I unloading this particular weight from my backpack this morning?  Is that such a big deal?  Well, it depends.  If I could just own it and go on with life, doing the best I can, that would be fine. But sometimes my floor and porch and clutter scream at me:  You are not  good enough.  You do not measure up.  And you are a stay-at-home mom!  Forget that the time I could spend keeping my kitchen floor in spectacular (aka impressive) condition is often used up carpooling, playing with my daughters, tending a baby, overseeing second grade homework or even writing this blog.  Somehow none of that, even put together, drowns out the accusation of a much “lived-in”  house.  Excuses aside, I choose how to spend my time and I just don’t choose that very often.

There are certainly other items in my backpack, but I wonder what weights you carry?  What voice is the loudest in your life? What defines you?

Numbers on a scale
Words from your spouse
Your square footage
Memories of abuse
Words you wish you could take back
Letters following your last name
Your education
Your lack of education
Your talent
Your friend’s talent
Addiction: alcohol, drugs, pornography, shopping, food, approval
Labels: on your clothes and on your children
Your position
Fear of rejection
Fear of never measuring up
Fear of failure
A father who abandoned you
A mother who criticized you
Having been the chubby kid
Having been the girl who gave herself away
Having been the bully
Having been bullied
Having been the poor kid
Having been the rich kid
Self-righteous pride
All you’ve done right
All you’ve done wrong
An abortion in high school or college
Sexual orientation
Status: single, married, divorced
Longing: for a child, for a spouse, for yesterday
Physical fitness
Healthy living
Denomination: Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Non
Lonely nights
Overloaded days
Controlling and Manipulating
Being controlled and manipulated
A perfectly clean house
A perfectly groomed lawn
The size of your nose, your ears, your feet, your waist, your clothes
Mental Illness
Political views
Your hobby
Your next paycheck
Your unfulfilled dreams

When we take a chance at being real with one another, real with ourselves and real with God, we pave the way for others to do the same.  There is no freedom in the facade.  There is only the heaviness of all we carry within.  But our God is higher than anything and anyone!  He outshines everything you can see in the skies!  God is higher and bigger than our insecurities, addictions, fears.  His love is strong enough to outshine the hurt, pain and fear.  What I know for certain is that no matter how well we wear our mask, every person craves validation and worth.  Deep, deep down we want to know we are loved and accepted apart from any of the things above.  We want to know we are worthy just because we are breathing.  And I write to tell you this morning you are Worthy, Loved, Valued, Treasured.

Just.  Because.  You.  Breathe.

Nothing on that list can change it.  Nothing we add or subtract, no ways we attempt to multiply or divide ourselves, can bring the freedom to just be.  Only Jesus can do that.  Why?  Because He crafted you.  Your Creator is satisfied with His work.  It’s not easy to unpack the backpack.  For indefinable reasons, we mostly would rather manage our sense of worth than let the God who made us fill us up and free us from the burden and work of it.

I sense a little stirring in my heart this morning.  An invitation to unpack the stuff of life weighing me down.  To be real and honest and go ahead and own the kitchen floor.  I invite you to unzip your heart, as well.  Just close your eyes and dig in…God will put the right thing for this day in your hand.  Then He will help you to let it go.  And He might just ask you to share it…to pave the way for someone else’s freedom.

Only He defines our worth.


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