I was sitting in a small regional airport recently and the ‘auto’ security announcement came over the speakers reminding travellers to take ‘their baggage with them’; as leaving it behind created a risk. I had a giggle.
Language is a powerful tool. A turn of phrase, a change of word choice, the ‘slang’ re-use of a word; all these actions and more, lace our language with meaning beyond the collection of letters that they are at face value.
Luggage is both in actual definition and in regular language use, items we use to aid us in our travels. To help carry those things we need to either make the journey more enjoyable or to fully appreciate our time at the destination. The tension point is always to carry enough, but not too much.
On the other hand, baggage whilst also meaning items you carry while you travel, think the ‘baggage handlers’ at the airport loading the plane; baggage though, through ‘slang’ or casual reference, also means our emotional problems, our fixed ideas or prejudices.
The announcement got me thinking.
Luggage as a word, is something I do personally associate with a journey, a trip, something that I look forward to. In fact, here is a little secret: I like shopping for travel luggage as the right luggage makes my work life so much more tolerable. Add break: my current ‘carry on’ (July) suitcase and (Hedgren) ‘work bag’ are in my view exceptional! Check ‘em out.
But baggage, yes, I do see and use that word differently.
Taking and leaving our baggage behind in the conversations we have, the relationships we experience and the interactions we travel through each day is a concern. Just as the airport announcement reminds us that leaving it behind is a risk at the airport, the risk attached to this type of baggage being left behind in our interactions with others is equally a problem.
What is important here, is understanding that we, I, well, we all do this.
We all have the tendency to carry the unnecessary, the accumulated and the additional baggage on life’s journey: grievances, worry, fear, anger, hurt – the aches and pains of life, for far too long. We then allow it to seep out, appear in our behaviours, our language and our attitudes. That’s simply not fair: on us or others.
The Christian journey of life is often characterised through the imagery of us laying our burdens, the aches and pains of life, our baggage, at the foot of the cross. To not carry our baggage, but rather to leave it with Him.
As Corrie ten Boom, the famous Dutch heroine who helped the Jews in occupied Netherlands during WWII stated, ‘never be afraid of trusting an unknown future to a known God.’ An unencumbered future, a lightened load, is a known future, a desired future, and one we can access when we place our baggage at the foot of the cross.
Last week I wrote about putting on our caps, this week I am encouraging us to take off, set down, let go of and leave behind: the things that weigh us down. To understand we are not called into this life to trudge, but rather to travel, we are not called to crawl but rather canter and certainly we are not called to be weighed down but rather lifted up.
You know, I know, what weighs us down.
We think about it, we pray into it and we hope for release.
My message today is simple.
Whatever weighs you down, set it down and walk away.
Leave the baggage.
Enjoy the lighter journey.
This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.