body of water

Backpack Days

I love to meet my students at the door each morning.  There are the usual morning tussles as they get their gear hung up and search their backpacks for needed items.  Those backpacks are an essential tool between home and school as notes and materials are passed back and forth between places.  It always amazes me what children think necessary to bring to school.  Their backpacks produce some surprising treasures some days.

My children always used backpacks as well.  They were a handy catchall for all things school and helped in keeping my kids organized.  Most of the time, my children kept their packs relatively clean and orderly.  

Still, my children managed to find ways to transport other curious items in their backpacks.  One of the ones that sticks out in my mind is the large dictionary one child carried back and forth to school for weeks.  I never did get a satisfactory answer as to why my daughter thought this was a good idea and even with repeated reminders, she decided to leave that heavy object in her backpack. 

Day after day my child carried this extra heavy load to and from school.  Her walk was not a short one, and I questioned how she was managing to carry so much extra weight for so long.  To me, she should have been able to conserve so much energy by not taking something extra to school that she didn’t need.  

I chuckle when I think about it, yet in reality, I have been doing something similar myself from time to time.

While not a physical backpack, how often I carry a heavy load with me that drags me down and slows my progress.  The “baggage” has looked different at various stages in my life but it almost always has the same effect.  I can’t look forward very easily when I keep turning back to deal with past burdens.  

Recently the “backpack” I have been carrying has simply been reliving events in this cancer process I have been on for so many weeks.  My mind revisits surgery and procedure moments and all the emotions contained there.  My heart hurts as I relive the days of test results and my diagnosis.

I now realize that this is detrimental to my successful healing.  It is similar to lugging heavy weights around with me that slow me down and impede my progress.  It’s time to redo the movie in my brain.

My cancer journey thus far is just part of the process.  True healing, even if it is only in my mind, will not occur if I am forever looking behind me.  What matters now is looking forward and thinking forward.  What I have experienced thus far was needful for diagnosis and treatment.  It doesn’t have to define my days going forward.

Scripture is very clear about dealing with the past.  Consider these verses:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18 NIV)

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25 NIV)

Who of us hasn’t dragged the past along with us?  Perhaps we are holding onto old hurts.  Every so often we bring them into discussions to validate ourselves in some way.  Or perhaps we look at the past baggage and our hearts hurt over all the injustices done to us or difficult situations we have had to endure.  There are so many ways we can drag the past along into our present.  While cherished memories are a delight to revisit, hauling along past burdens is not.

No one walks as far when carrying a heavy load as they do without.  What loads are you carrying along with you that are unnecessary?  Bitter feelings from a failed relationship?  Regrets about choices made?  Sadness over loss and grief?

While we do need to deal with those old feelings and put them in their proper place, we do ourselves a disservice when we let them carry into our day to day lives and hamper our journey.

Scripture is clear at telling us to not dwell in the past and to look forward.  Hope doesn’t dwell in or on the past.  It cannot.  Hope believes that the future will be brighter; that things will improve.  How can we feel hopeful when the heavy load we carry interferes?

The next time you are thinking of carrying that heavy “backpack” into your day consider leaving it behind.  Think forward to all the wonderful things God has in store for you.  Have hope that God will keep His promises to love you, care for you, and see you through whatever comes.  Look ahead to the wonders He has for you.  

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