Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When it's just too heavy

I’m a chronic over packer. But it never seemed a problem in the days when I traveled so much.

I had a piece of Hartmann luggage that I loved, and even though luggage styles had begun to include wheels (oh, how I date myself), I clung to that bag. I was a fashion buyer, so I couldn’t exactly go into the New York market looking like a ragamuffin. It was just big enough to hold the shoes, scarves, and outfits I needed for a week.

I never had to handle the bag much, as I’d check it in curbside at the Atlanta airport, get a cart at LaGuardia on the other end, and wheel it to a cab where the cabbie would load it. At the hotel, a bellman would unload it and get it to my room after check-in.

As I was saying, it never seemed a problem. Except once. And that was the last time I used that piece of luggage.

A fellow buyer and I had the bright idea to have an adventure: take a train to New York, leave a few days early, and stay in Washington en route.

It wound up being an adventure, all right. When we arrived at Union Station, we found it under serious renovation.

“Where are the carts?” I cried when we deboarded the train, scanning the platform through a mob of people.

“I don’t know,” my friend said.

Of course, she didn't need one, smart cookie that she was. She had a bag with wheels.

I looked down at my over stuffed bag. I had no alternative but to pick it up. I wound up lugging it for what seemed like miles through a maze of construction to get it to a cab. That trip is one reason my right shoulder is now about an inch lower than the left. I think my posture was permanently altered on that trip.

I immediately bought a rolling case on my return.

In the last post, I wrote about a quandary in which I find myself. And it feels like that piece of luggage. Heavy. And it also seems like I’ve been dragging it all over Union Station. Alone.

 I sense if I were to keep going like this, the whole thing is going to have a distorting effect on my spirit just as that luggage had on my posture.

What I keep hearing the Holy Spirit whisper is, “My burden is light.”

“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 11:29-30 The Message).

When I remember that vintage suitcase, I’m thankful I won’t ever have to heft it again. The same is true for that luggage of striving. Here at the beginning of the New Year, I know that as I keep company with him, I can permanently throw that heavy bag of striving to the curb.

If you, too, find yourself loaded down, remember there’s a better way, a lighter way.

Together, friends, let’s get rid of our vintage luggage.

In the New Year, we’ll roll with grace.

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