Traveling Light

Upon leaving for our recent trip to New York, it seemed a great idea to pack everything. All the clothes I “may” need: pants and shorts, plain t-shirts and fancy shirts, several pairs of shoes and a variety of jewelry. Scooters and bikes for the kids. DVD Player, iPhone, Computer and iPad. And, don’t forget the books that will sit on the nightstand unread!

Arriving home, the unloading begins. The extra paraphernalia packed is now burdensome. Added time is needed to replace everything in its proper place. Laundry piles high leering at me to begin the washing cycle. Making room for souvenirs is inconvenient. It’s interesting how I assume the more stuff taken on a trip, the easier life will be for the week. And yet, the unpacking is where the grumpiness is often unleashed.

I find this true in the rest of life as well. Kristen once told me “You can drop the bag you are carrying and noone has to know you were carrying it.” Kristen was clearly referring to the extra emotional baggage we often lug around. I loved this statement. I imagined walking down a road holding two old suitcases bursting at the seams. I considered what gear may be inside those vintage suitcases – a shirt I no longer need, my temper, past hurts from years gone by, my desire for approval, current frustrations weighing me down. I let go of both cases and continue to walk. I feel the weight release.

Naturally, this is easier imagined than lived out. My usual way with extra luggage I haul is not to merely drop it. Rather, I have several go-to tactics: Sharing at length about the baggage with friends and family; longing to rid myself of a worn shirt but deciding to keep it for sentimental reasons; going it alone, stewing about the contents, and in my own strength, attempting to fix the broken seams. And then, there is always the middle of the night battling session with God where I toss and turn at 3am.

Yet, I can’t help but to consider what would happen if I chose to gently release that which I carry without noting it to anyone? Without worrying about the outcome. Without fear attached. Without asking for permission or needing another’s input. Without my side of the story being heard. What would happen if I trusted that all I carry in my bag is known and handled by one far greater than myself? What does that even look like and how do I go about it? How would this approach at life change me?

I remember when Jesus sent out the disciples:

“Jesus convened a gathering of the twelve. He gave them power and authority to free people from all demonic spirits and to heal them of diseases. He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. These were His instructions:
1. Travel light on your journey: don’t take a staff, backpack, bread, money, or even an extra change of clothes.
2. When you enter a house, stay there until you leave that city.
3. If a town rejects you, shake the dust from your feet as you leave as a witness against them.”
Luke 9:1-6 (The Voice)

What was Jesus getting at by telling the disciples they aren’t able to bring what we would consider necessities: a backpack, bread, money and a change of clothes? This challenges me!

As I reflect on this, I consider when I am loaded down by baggage, all I do is think about how heavy I am. My focus is on the weight of what I carry. But, if I envision bringing my whole self with nothing else, my focus shifts. I begin to dwell on the expedition rather than the baggage. My eyes are not straining to look at my luggage, but forward, at the scenery. I also look for people, open to hearing their story, open to their help. Quite possibly, the most helpful necessities I carry are faith, hope and love. These three tools allow me to carry on, even when I am rejected. When my attention shifts from the physical, I free myself to focus and depend upon the Living Christ.

The Living Christ comes beside me. The Living Christ opens my eyes to the wonder all around. The Living Christ helps me extend compassion when I don’t want to. The Living Christ aids me to listen and not fix. The Living Christ loves me as I am. The Living Christ shows me glimmers of light: in another’s eyes, in the words of a friend, in a kind gesture. When I fix my eyes on Christ, I see how He provides abundantly and I can’t help but be grateful.

By no means am I an expert at this. I frequently drop a bag only to run back and pick it up. Reclaim the burden! My baggage comforts me. It gives me a story to tell or a soft shirt to wear. Yet, I know in my soul I have Jesus who is willing to be the suitcase carrier. I only need to be willing to release it to him.

So, there you have it. I am in the practice of releasing things to Christ. Some days it goes well, other days, not so well. I am discerning what works and what doesn’t. But I find when I center on Christ, I am less burdensome and the present moment becomes the gift.

Indeed, when we travel lighter, we travel as Christ’s light in the world! So be it!

To Ponder:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28 (MSG)

What are the things you currently carry that weigh you down? Begin to notice when you have moments of feeling lighter (while you exercise, read, prayer time, etc). Consider incorporating this as part of your daily rhythm.

To Practice:
As you walk through your day, try this breath prayer:
“Living Christ, Open my eyes to your light.

As you inhale: “Living Christ”
As you exhale: “Open my eyes to your light”

Create your own “Travel Light” Jar here.

With a Child:
Have you ever carried something really heavy? Can you tell me the story?

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