So in the past three weeks I have driven about 779mi, Orlando to Hendersonville to Chattanooga; I’ve packed and unpacked twice and slept in 3 different places. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, but amid all this i’ve been thinking about packing. To preface this, I hate packing. I’m not good at, my mind doesn’t think spatially. I’m not even sure I was good at the put the shapes in the correct holes game when I was a kid. My idea of packing clothes is throwing them in a suitcase, and I mean literally just dropping in what I need. There’s another reason I hate packing, I’m forgetful. Seriously, I ALWAYS forget something. In the past I’ve left my dress pants in my dorm room at school, my pillow at home, and twice a towel. But like I said, amid all this I’ve been thinking. We carry a lot of things with us wherever we go; and we also pack specifically for where we’re going. You don’t take a parka to Hawaii, or swim trunks to Alaska. That just makes no sense. It somehow seems that we accumulate things through our lives. Odds and ends, unexplained pieces of a fragmented life; it can build up pretty fast to the point where we’ve got a lot of useless stuff just lying around. Some it meaningful, some of it trash. But regardless we carry it around with us.
“What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end“ — Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried) (1)
While it is important I think the main point is not what we carry around, but what we do with what we carry. If you carried around a watch, but never looked at it and were constantly late to everything that wouldn’t make sense right? What we carry with us affects us, it makes us react to things in certain ways. If you’ve been betrayed by a close friend you have a hard time trusting people, and when you finally do trust someone again if it starts to seem like they’re going to burn you, you’ll react a little too quickly and sometimes, maybe in the wrong way. Everything we do or everything that happens to us affects us in one way or another.
“It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do. “ — Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried) (2)
I guess if the point is what we do with what we carry around, then one of the questions is what do we do then?
It’s been said that we all choose how we react to situations. I suppose this is true
(I’m still a little unconvinced since in some situations you just have a gut reaction or an automatic one.)
While at first you may not react in the best way.
(Like the time a really close friend txted me saying she was getting engaged, and instead of replying congratulations, my 1st reply was Holy Crap!!! Not to fear, I recovered and sent an appropriate response.)
You can choose how you react the second time. So how are we supposed to react? The second question will help answer that.
What are you carrying?
Like I said earlier we’re all carrying pieces of pain and fragments of hurt or loss or what-have-you. They affect us and how we relate to others and to situations. But I propose that there’s something that should supersede all of that.
We’ve grown up hearing that if we just accept Him that things will get easier, He’ll bless us more than we can ever imagine, if we give everything to Him that He’ll make us more than we ever thought possible.
This isn’t true.
Now before you exit this page and think…wow this guy is a heretic, just think for a second. How many Bible heroes had easy lives? Not many. How many were rich? None of them really. How many were accepted in society and revered? They were killed, on crosses, by lions, and were stoned.
Doesn’t paint a pretty picture does it? That doesn’t mean we should give up. Life with Jesus is not a cakewalk or a stroll in the park. It’s a struggle, a fight to death. Something we have to grapple with everyday. It’s meant to be hard. We appreciate things more when we have to work for them.
The thing is…He’ll use everything else we carry. He’ll use the pain we’ve had to help us understand Him more, to relate to others better. He takes our pain and suffering and helps make it worthy, make it beautiful. Because of that each and everyone of us has people that only we can reach. People only we can relate to. I heard Louie Giglio speak at Passion 2011 in January, he summed up his talk with one thought.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it matters what you carry with you and what you should be carrying is Jesus” – Louie Giglio
(1,2) Quotes from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – His book is about soldiers in Vietnam and based partially on his own experiences. Great book.
Picture from Flickr user Collection Agency