Journey of Messy Change: One Year Writing About Emotional Baggage

change me livefree

I have spent the past year writing about how to deal with baggage while in leadership.

I did some research. I went to counseling with a list because I was painfully aware of what needed to change. I noticed a pattern tied to my struggle with depression as I read through old journals.

I traced all of those experiences back to this lie…I wasn’t enough. To be loved meant morphing into whomever the person in front of me wanted. It meant “try harder” and add more to my crowded life. I’m a recovering people pleaser who became extremely tired.

I needed to change. I needed to set guiltless boundaries.

We all have it, this mother-load of baggage from our past, but I’ve learned that we only carry around the things we can’t stand to part with. Our identity is not our baggage; it’s what we do with it that defines us. It’s empty hands in surrender and traveling lighter. I wish I could say it’s been all butterflies and rainbows, but it’s been really painful and freeing at the same time. I’ve done all the work to be unhindered.

Sometimes going forward in life means that we have to go back and deal with things that we have tried to ignore. To revisit a memory doesn’t mean that you dwell in that broken place where life left you breathless. You simply acknowledge it happened and you ask God to help you deal with whatever emotions surface in your heart. That is the kind of messy change we need instead of placing blame.

If you need to forgive, do it. Don’t let the root of bitterness rot your beautiful bones.

If you need grace and forgiveness, ask for it. If the person you wronged can’t extend grace and forgiveness to you, just know you did your bravest act of humility, then move on and pray for them.

If you need a break, take one. Send out an SOS text and ask for help. Humble yourself and take off that Superwoman cape. We were never meant to do difficult things alone.

I whisper these words over you, a quote from a woman in ministry spoken over me when I was recovering from surgery eight years ago this summer, “Sometimes you learn more from Clark Kent than you do from Superman.”

In my wrecked weakness, her words set me free. She didn’t need me to be the perfect mentor and friend; she just needed to see me. No cape required, no need to mask the painfully awkward recovery I was in. I was scared, trying to heal and love others…and I was a hot-mess sometimes.

I remember crying to my husband weeks after the surgery, “I feel like I’m screaming, but no one can hear me.”

I needed to recover in a peaceful place where I could truly find rest in body and spirit without pushing myself to do things that would set me back physically. It’s the same way for our hearts. We need moments where we are “off duty” without feeling badly about letting someone step in to help.

Maybe you are not recovering from surgery, but chances are you are trying to recover from something.

So, what do you need for soul-recovery to change toxic thoughts?

It could be as simple as a nap or coffee with a friend. It might involve you scheduling an appointment for counseling and walking in ready to unleash the hurts you’ve carried longer than you care to admit.

Maybe you need to start a prayer and soul-recovery journal and make a coffee date with Jesus before your children wake up. If you aren’t exercising, start with adding twenty minutes of walking and commit to taking care of your temple. It’s the only one you have, be nice to it.

This well-balanced thing sounds like a good idea, but what if you were meant to do five really noble things and you are too distracted by trying for ten? Take your five really noble things and watch God multiple the beauty and the impact of those things. He alone gives that kind of increase. Focus on the five things that are in your sphere of influence, start inside of your home and work your way out from there.

A majority of our problems are because of unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and others. So…maybe we should spend a little more time changing that?

Much love,

Jennifer Renee

Maybe your heart and focus is all over the map. I’m finding clarity from these scriptures by making them my prayer.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Psalm 86:11 NIV)

I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. (Jer 32:39 NIV)

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5 NIV)

Linking up with my buddy Suzie Eller for #livefreethursday