When we move, we pack up and then unpack our stuff, choosing to keep what is still useful to us and giving away or selling what no longer works for us. Whether we are moving to a bigger place or downsizing, we choose to move with what suits our new life.
The same is true of the emotional stuff left over from the past. If we’re carrying around a lot of stuff from the past often arising from fear or anger, we need to look at what serves us now and what is weighing us down, what we are hiding for whatever reason. And here is when we need to offload this stuff, let it go to God, let him heal us and transform us.
It is a huge part of our conversion from following the world’s ways to following God’s to off-load the stuff from the past which no longer serves us, thereby allowing God to take it away from us. For our identity now to be in God we can no longer hold onto the past.
The first thing to understand is that we cannot change ourselves, only God can do that, but there are things we can do to participate in and to facilitate the change. Of course we can slow the pace of change by our own resistance. If we’re really interested in healing all the past, we can keep the process on track by searching out what needs to be let go of within ourselves and offering it up to God. We can respond quickly when God is highlighting what needs to be changed in us.
God respects our self-protective walls and our will. He will not just enter into our lives willy-nilly. He needs an invitation from us to enter into our deepest selves and to transform us. Remember he is not wrestling us to the ground to make us change. He doesn’t throw us into jail until we comply with his laws. He allows us our free will. When we have guilt and shame that needs to be healed, we are hanging on to an identity set in the past. We have much in our unconscious that needs to be healed—unconscious drivers of our behavior that don’t conform to God’s laws, deep-seated prejudices that we may be unaware of and more. Our job is to begin to take down the self-protective walls that we erected out of guilt and shame so that no one could see our inner selves and invite God in to heal all that stuff. After all, God already knows everything about us.
There is a prayer house near me in Charlotte where I go to pray most days. Last week I saw a picture there of a stack of suitcases with these words: “This is an all-terrain journey so…Ditch the baggage & travel light.” The baggage is all the stuff we carry around with us that gets in the way of loving God, ourselves and others. So with the goal of unpacking our stuff and traveling light, here are three steps, a guide to clearing out the “stuff” of our lives, particularly that which does not serve us or God. The question for us is: how do we love God with all of ourselves?
The first step is to be aware of all that we are. It’s helpful to list all the things that we’ve done that we’re not proud of, that we are guilty of, then add to that list the things we’re ashamed of, things that have been done to us and things that we have done to others. With each thing on our list we are to offer it up to God for healing and transformation. It’s a helpful practice to set intentions around each of these things on your list. So if you hurt a friend, set an intention to be more loving. If you’ve judged someone unfairly, set an intention to not be judgmental. If you’ve been anxious and not trusting of God, pray for more trust or set an intention to trust God completely. When you set an intention, which is a focused kind of prayer, gather your whole self first—soul, heart, mind and body to get behind the intention.
Then make a positive statement of what you want in your life. I want to be more loving. I release this pain. I forgive myself. And so on… Our intention opens the door for Christ to enter into our deepest self and to heal that part of us. It may take a month or two before you feel the difference, but intention by intention you are lightening the load you carry, removing the walls between you and God and you and others. Remember that Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” [Matthew 11:30]
To bring one’s whole self to God, to conform to his ways may be a lifelong process. But as we are in a healing process with Christ, turning over more and more of our “stuff,” we will feel lighter and freer, moving towards being transformed into the person we were each created to be.
Once you’ve dealt with the things you know about, it’s time to look at all the unconscious attitudes and stuff. Bring your attention to the details of your life. How do I subtly react to various people? What attitudes in me cause others pain? Every time we discover another fault line of negativity about others, we need to lift that up to the Lord
The second step after clearly seeing what is going on with us from the past and right now, stuff that is definitely outside God’s laws, is to own all that we are. Yes, I did that. And that. And, boy, am I ashamed of that. And so on, clearly facing ourselves as the complex human beings that we are, full of the human and, potentially, the divine. Owning who we are means we are no longer hiding anything. We are no longer draining off our best energies in hiding the parts of ourselves we’re ashamed of. We can just admit to others where we stray. We can allow them their mistakes as well. We no longer hide anything. We just are who we are.
We tear down all the walls that hide these problematic parts of ourselves from others and from God(even though God already knows it all!) and even ourselves. We relax into the sum total of our parts and forgive all our lapses. We embrace and love the whole of who we are.
And, thirdly, we take that whole self to God in love. God can work with that whole self; he can heal and transform us. He can define our purpose for us. He can show us who he is and how he thinks. And finally, we can relax in his arms, just as we are. And love him and receive his love. Unpacking and putting our stuff in God’s hands to transform is the way to loving God, ourselves and others.
Questions to ponder over the week: Will I follow my longing into a deep relationship with Christ? Am I ready to face all that I am, all that I have done, all that was done to me? Will I acknowledge every part of myself and begin to relax in the whole person that I am, the good, the bad and the ugly? Will I take that whole self to God in love?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who bring our whole selves, mistakes and all, to God. May we offer up all that we are in his service and in the service of other people. May we be free to follow God wherever he would lead us.
News from By the Waters:
All five of the videos about the Exodus story are up on YouTube, plus two more. Here are the url’s to access them:
Part I: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfouN0PNH0
Part II: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyvRsnqYrdg
Part IIIa: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZU32Y09UN8
Part IIIb: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqKay89kjE
Part IV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=84z7KF_uv7Q
God’s Invitation, www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkp_-wDKFo
The Heart of the Gospel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJbPKSOACc
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.
If you want to read the entire post for this week, check it out atbythewaters.net/blog.html.