It’s a new year & for most people that means it’s time to set resolutions. We all know it, but probably one of the most common & popular resolutions is about losing weight, exercising, or being more healthy. In this country, we’re so willing & so quick to spend large amounts of money on health equipment, certain kinds of foods, &/or doctor visits. We all want to be healthy or look a certain way & a lot of us go out of our way to do so. We all want to lose the physical baggage of the excess weight we carry around & yet most of us are quick to ignore the emotional baggage we’ve also been lugging around for so long. It just makes me wonder, what would our world look like if we put as much effort into dealing with our emotional baggage as we do our health & fitness?
In our society, we treat emotions as though they’re taboo things we should shovel away into a dark corner. I’m not saying we should all go lay out on a therapist’s couch or blame our root emotions for all of our life’s problems, but I do think it’s important to confront & wrestle our sticky emotions head-on. If we constantly ignore & shovel away our emotional problems, like unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, or selfishness, they can start to fester & spread like an infection. You wouldn’t let a physical infection spread, so why do we let emotional ones cause as much lifelong damage as they do? Physical infections show symptoms to let you know they’re there…& emotional ones do, too. The behavioral symptoms of emotional infection could things like irritability, depression, anxiety, arrogance, or other reckless behaviors that could cost you your life. A lot of times, the emotional baggage we haul around with us can become a source of other issues in life- they may begin to affect your work or marriage, or maybe it turns into something like drug/substance abuse, retail “therapy,” food binging, eating disorders, or beginning to take out your pain on others through physical & emotional abuse. All of these can become even more destructive, not only in your life but in the lives of those around you, the ones you love most. Sometimes the symptoms of our emotional baggage aren’t quite so dramatic…sometimes they could be as simple as the reasons we quit our resolutions, goals, & dreams. We just become so worn down by all the weight we’re already carrying emotionally & we go ahead & believe & accept that we “can’t”…so we don’t.
Dealing with the emotional baggage won’t be easy. It will be messy & difficult. But it’s just as important to manage as your physical health. Today, maybe find someone in your life you know is wise, reliable, & can be trusted. If you don’t have that, maybe seek out a local pastor or counselor. Don’t be ashamed of it because everyone deals with baggage. Even that person you are thinking of right this very moment, whose social media accounts always look like a dream life from your favorite magazine. Yes, even they have baggage. Heck, I’ve gotten to points in my life where I had to speak to a pastor & trusted advisors over my baggage. I sought out people I knew would listen, let me cry, & yet still lead me with godly, loving, wise advice. Those talks made all the difference in my life. My load has become much lighter than before. There are still pieces of baggage I have to deal with on a daily basis & I’m sure new things will be added to the load over time, but I have to choose every day to be free of the burdens by handing them over to God & finding my rest & peace in Him.
“Come to Me, all you who labor & are heavy laden, & I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you & learn from Me, for I am gentle & lowly in heart, & you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy & My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
So today, in this new year, take time to reflect not just on your physical health, but also on your emotional health. Pull the skeletons out from the dark corner & confront them. Reflect on what the baggage is, where it came from, why it’s still there…then choose to work it out of your life & heart. Make your emotional health just as important as anything else & as you let go of the extra baggage, I guarantee you will begin to see natural, positive impacts in ALL the other areas of your life.
Be blessed, friends.
PS: This is for someone…I hope you don’t just read, but feel & know the immense, immeasurable, infinite love God has for you:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, & that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:10 & 11.
My friend, whoever you are…wherever you are. You. Are. Loved.