Ok – so can you see it in this photo? All the “stuff”? Can you see all the things piled up behind the couch and underneath? Probably not unless you look at the little picture that I superimposed in the corner showing some of it. Without that little picture or getting up close and looking behind or underneath, you won’t see the flattened boxes that are there. At first glance, all you see is a nice black couch with a blanket on it to protect it from the claws of Scout having just awoken from a nap. The baggage, the stuff, just isn’t obvious.
When I read these stories in the latter parts of Genesis, I wonder about all the baggage that piles up. I wrote a bit about this a few weeks ago with Isaac, Abraham, and Sarah. What was the baggage that they were carrying as they went along from the story of the near-sacrifice? What about in these stories? The baggage carried by Dinah? By her brothers after they slaughtered a city of people in an act of brutal vengeance? By the women and children who were taken captive? What about the stories that follow? What was the baggage that Jacob carried from the death of his wife Rachel as she gave birth to their son Benjamin? Was that baggage some of why he favored the sons that he fathered with Rachel – Joseph and Benjamin? What about the baggage of the brothers as they saw the love that was showered on Joseph and not on them?
It really feels like so much of what happens in these stories is people living out the baggage that they have from their past. Sound familiar?
What’s your baggage? I am every day, it seems, learning what some of my baggage is. Things that I have carried from decades ago, from years ago, and even from months ago, maybe even days ago. We all have this baggage and it is so easy for us to try to just shove it behind or underneath the couches of our lives thinking no one will know it is there. But its there and it is real and it affects us each day until we find ways to deal with it.
I am grateful for the fact that God is about the work of healing and restoration. God is about helping us see our true selves and reminding us of how that baggage doesn’t define us ultimately but the truth that we are created in the image of God is what defines us. I wish that this healing process was a snap of the fingers or a wave of a wand or simply someone praying over me. But it is a lifetime process – a lifetime of being open to how God wants to take all of this baggage and ultimately lift it from us. After all, it was Jesus who lifts our burdens and takes our baggage. But even so, it takes work – it takes moving the couch and getting back there and bringing it out into the open so that healing can begin.