Saturday, November 21, 2009

People and Baggage

I just got back from a week out of town. In the great airport adventure I found it very interesting to observe the behavior of people at the passenger pick-up area. Being the Friday before Thanksgiving, the airport was very crowded, so needless to say, the passenger pick-up area was stop and go traffic! Cars waited in line for quite a while to enter the area and then cruised as slowly as possible down the lane looking for people. Some drivers were on cell phones, some blocked traffic, some honked, and others hurried to load up baggage and people. A couple of people dared to park and wait in their cars, but it wasn't long before the police woman knocked on their windows and told them to move on. They reluctantly pulled away from the curb and started the great merry-go-round again. A big van pulled in and six attractive young women loaded up - the bridesmaids had arrived! People shouted greetings to each other across the lanes and dashed through the slowly moving cars. There were hurried hugs and introductory inquiries. Generally, the passenger pick up area seemed to be a pretty happy place. Loved ones and friends were together again. Lots of people and baggage, people and baggage.

As we go through life, it seems that we are often on that merry-go-round of passenger pick up picking up people and baggage. I suppose that sometimes this is good and sometimes it isn't. We drive through life picking up new relationship along the way. Those relationships might be pretty good, or they might be pretty bad, but sometimes it takes a while to know. Sometimes we don't do such a good job discerning what kind of people are best for our lives. Sometimes we pick up the worst kind of people. We can easily be fooled. Sometimes people change. We may be surprised to find that our spouse has started to drink too much or becomes abusive. We may not realize that a new friend is in the relationship only because they want something inappropriate. We might discover that a trusted visitor in our home is stealing from us. When we pick up the wrong people, our lives can be dramatically changed. If we knew better, when we picked up the wrong person we would drive right around to that passenger drop off area. Unfortunately, we usually have to suffer a bit before we get it. It takes practice to be discerning about people. It also takes practice to let go of our denial or blind spots. I don't suppose we should expect to get it right all the time no matter how much practice we have, but we can always do better.

Baggage is much the same. We pick up much baggage along the way. Here and there someone directs mean criticism at us or hurts us. We can't let it bounce off so we carry it around. We are deceived or fooled and we tuck that away in a corner of our minds determined that we won't trust again. Someone hurts us without even knowing it or intending it, but we are angry and can’t let it go. Some things we have been carrying around for so long, we don't even know they are there. We might even carry around other people's baggage! Our burdens become needlessly heavy and slow us down. Our baggage keeps us from seeing clearly and making sound choices. Excess baggage can dramatically affect our lives.

I suppose we can help ourselves if we pay attention and be intentional. If we have an intention to seek out certain types of folks for our relationships, we are more likely to find those people. If we have an intention to care for ourselves by finding good and positive influences in our lives, we are more likely to have success. If we are on the lookout for our tendencies to be over sensitive or to carry other people's stuff, we can head it off. If we are determined to open our eyes and learn from our past mistakes, the odds are much improved that it will happen. With intention, we are going to pay attention. The relationships we choose don't just happen. The baggage we lug around doesn't just happen to be loaded onto us. We choose it. It is important to be able to say, "This is mine," or "This is not mine." We may need some help to figure it out and unload what doesn't belong to us, but we can do it. It is within our power and ability. I like to travel light through life. It requires that I am discerning, paying attention, and being intentional.

Enter the passenger pick up area with caution! Carelessness can lead to needless burdens!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, can I relate...I brought way too much stuff with me on this trip....physically and emotionally.... and now I am unpacking and unloading and "cleaning out the trash"....feels good!