There is no joy found in the crappy baggage you carry with you. You see that torn canvas and broken handle on the suitcase of your life, and you literally just let that thing pass right by on the carousel. “Whose bag is that?” you query along with the judgmental zipped-up luggage holders next to you. But just because some people box it up pretty doesn’t mean that all is well.
Once, on vacation, we traveled from California home to Florida. I remember packing for that trip. Each item was carefully placed in the suitcase with a plan attached to it. “I will wear this shirt Monday and these jeans Tuesday, and then if it gets cold I have this sweater…” Once I was finished, I stood back and looked at this marvelous sight before me. Intricate little pieces filled every inch of this zippered bag. This bag and my family would travel across the country and come back looking exactly the same.
Oh what a fool I was. After the most amazing time in an amazing state, we had accumulated more stuff, but there was not enough room to fit it all in. But I sure did try. I pushed and I shoved and I manipulated and I worked…and I mean worked at this bag, until I was done. In hindsight, I probably should have just bought another bag and paid the extra baggage fee, but life cannot be lived ten steps backwards.
Finally, we made it back from West to East. Don’t get me wrong, we had an awesome time, but it felt so good to be home, at our altitude. There we stood, traveled and worn, waiting for our bags to surface and make their way to us on the carousel. As each bag passed, I noticed different things about each one. Oh that suitcase has a tear, that luggage tag is really expensive, that is a really brightly colored suitcase, my gosh!
Then I saw it. Our luggage. Folks, let me not spare any gory detail. Every article that was once inside of that suitcase was now no longer in the suitcase. Ladies and gentlemen, let me paint a picture for you of what I beheld that day. This blue vessel that was once considered a suitcase was lurching ominously towards my family. It was obvious that the zipper couldn’t hang in there, and it just gave up. Where he gave up, I will never know. Was it in California when they were loading in, or once we got back to sunny South Florida? You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and our weakest link was a frail zipper who had reached his maximum zippage and now needed to be laid to rest.
Shirts and jeans and children’s underwear and toiletries and everything just everywhere. It was piled atop my luggage, sitting on the carousel just next to it, inside the now-broken lid of my luggage… Oh, and look, there’s some random stuff from inside the suitcase just riding solo on the carousel. “Oh, that’s my bra, sir, I will take that.”
As it inched towards us, I began to perspire. Neighboring people began to comment and gasp. Whoever that belongs to obviously has no idea how to pack, or is a mess of a human, or they stuffed a rabid raccoon in there. Closer and closer it got. I could feel my husband’s eyes like lasers as I awaited the snide remark. Now it was only feet away from us, and I cringed at the oncoming awkward grab, the low talk argument, and the silent walk to the car.
Then, something else happened. My life partner in crime said, “Well, that’s a sign of a great vacation not spent packing.” He grabbed that luggage with all the confidence he had as I gathered what fell. Every eye was on us as we pushed it all back in and just laughed it off like we meant to do that. It was kind of cool. No matter how messy it was, it was ours.
He was right; I shoved all that crap in there in a mad dash because I was too busy spending quality time with quality people. That vacation was one of the best experiences in our lives. Our luggage wasn’t a reflection of who we were, but what we did with our time in California.
All those judgmental travelers to our left and right had suitcases too. Loads of baggage, their belongings packed tightly and neatly, their mighty zippers sealing it all in. But that doesn’t mean they had it all together just because they looked like they did.
We put on our makeup and our filters and we hashtag #blessed, and we tweet and convince the world that we are okay. But inside us, the zipper on the suitcase of our life is giving way. My steamy soulmate once told me to, “Be who you are, be how you are.” And we jokingly say this to each other often because it is so true. Be how you are. Being authentic doesn’t take effort. Being yourself is easy because you’re doing it. We tell our kids that “Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.”
So why can’t we be who we are and show that person to the world all the time? The goofy person you see in the mirror doesn’t have to pack themselves inside of a suitcase and zip up and appear to be something they’re not. I would rather all my laundry, both clean and dirty, be busted out for the crowd to see and judge than to never be seen for who I am at all. Because my Creator designed me not for perfection, but for passion. For love. Packed up as me.
Be safe, Be great, Be YOU!
Reality Changing Observations:
1. Have you ever tried to be someone you’re not to please others? How did it help or not help?
2. If Jesus stood next to you at baggage claim, what would he think of your luggage if he saw it strewn about on the carousel?
3. What are some ways you exude confidence in how you are?