What I Learned Writing About Emotional Baggage

Moving Luggage Pic

I have spent this past year writing about how I learned to unpack a lifetime of baggage in the spotlight of leadership. I have so many people tell me that there is no way that God could ever use them because they are “just too messed up.” I usually smile and say, “You are exactly who God wants to use then!”

The messiness of our lives tell a story of hope, of failing, and a redemption that comes from walking broken roads. It reminds us of our need for God and for others. I am convinced that all our pain and aching serves a beautiful purpose of helping others heal. We show them our battle scars and let them know that we are still standing. Our healing is not just for us, it’s meant to be shared and celebrated. It can be a catalyst for someone else.

People want a Band-Aid to fix gaping wounds when soul-surgery is what is needed. Sometimes we have to go back in order to move forward. This process just takes time; it takes letting go and learning to forgive others and yourself.

I had to revisit some really crappy moments in my life, not to camp out there, but to write from a vulnerable place. You know those dreams where you are standing in front of a crowd buck-naked? Well, that’s how it felt. And because I’m a total dork, I looked up that awesome word. Buck in military language means “of the lowest possible rank.” We all know what naked means and most of us don’t want our junk on display.

I think of how many times I felt at the lowest possible rank and how my weakness was a really great opportunity for God to show up and strengthen me. Rock bottom is a beautiful place to begin again. It’s like your feet touching the bottom of the deep end and then pushing yourself up to the surface for air. We dive into the deep and know that greatness is being cultivated inside a heart that refuses to stay at the lowest rank.

I wanted to revisit those heartaches to ask myself a very important question, “Are you really over it?”

I went to counseling and I spilled all my junk. I unfolded those moments and put them in their proper place and walked out of that office with greater clarity.

We can’t erase time, but we can look at it through clearer eyes. We pass through the waters and we walk through the fire…and we are still standing and better than ever.

Something profound happened in counseling years ago. As the counselor brought up memories that deeply affected me, she named each one and said, “Where was God in that memory?” Sometimes I was so surprised by what came out of my mouth. Tucked away inside of me wasn’t a broken girl, but a whole one. One being strategically put together for the work God was calling me to do. My baggage literally became my platform. God can use us in our messiness, but what He does through us is the result of cleaning up the mess we made.

“Where was God when you were on that operating table and scared?” She asked.

“He was the table holding me and the surgeon removing what was broken inside of me.”

Tears ran down my face as I saw God in all those tattered moments, every single one. Each moment dealt with. Each story unfolded telling a story of hope.

God is with you and able to walk you through the broken memories in your life. You can do all the hard work to become free. I promise you it’s worth it. God is not going to use us because we are perfect, but because we aren’t. We look to a perfect, loving God and ask Him where He was in a moment that left us breathless and we find Him there. Always.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you, When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Is 43:1-2 NKJV)

Much love,

Jennifer Renee

Photo Cred: Jason Kuffer