Checking Your Old Bag at the Gate

spinster-156097_640Whenever I encounter older people who are cranky, unpleasant, or critical, I wonder how I’m going to avoid becoming just like them. Last weekend, I stumbled on part of the answer.

I took a quick trip south for an out-of-state wedding. My luggage was very important – the outfit for the wedding, the shoes, the hairdryer, as well as clothes for the mugginess awaiting me in North Carolina. So important, in fact, that I refused to check my bags, carrying them with me on the plane to insure their arrival.

You probably know from an earlier post that just as the plane lifted off after making my connection, I dumped an iced tea into my lap essentially destroying the white pants on which I’d based the weekends’ outfits. This elevated the remaining luggage to an even more precious status and I made sure to keep careful track of it all the way to the hotel room.

Flying back was a completely different experience. The event was past. The weekend behind me. I packed hastily and easily relinquished my luggage to the airline staff without hesitation. I relaxed in the waiting area without a thought to where my possessions would land or when.

The difference?

This time, I was heading home.

My nerves were calm because no matter what happened with my suitcase, I would still have everything I needed when I arrived. I had no worries about my appearance because I knew those awaiting me were waiting for ME, not the impression I would make. My clothes don’t matter to them – I do. Even if we encountered trouble and I dragged myself off the plane hungry, wrinkled, and exhausted, I’d be welcomed with open arms.

While the flight to the event was pleasurable, the journey home was a complete joy. I wasn’t worried about arriving on time or keeping track of my bags or making any kind of appearance. I was entirely focused on the journey, on my companions, and on looking forward to the destination.

This is how I want to experience the rest of my years on the planet – traveling light because I’m heading home. Focused not on worrying whether or not I have everything I need, on my appearance, or on carrying my bags but focused, instead, on the journey, my companions, and on the thrill of my final destination.

I want to check the spiritual baggage that weighs me down – sin, self-consciousness, other people’s judgments and expectations, fear, anxiety, and the constant grasping for more so characteristic of us in modern times. I want to check it all and travel, unencumbered, for this leg of the journey – knowing that if that bag gets lost, I’ve no need to fear because everything I need is waiting for me at home.

I realize I’ve spiritualized a common human experience but God spoke to me on that trip home about what a model that can be for me in these later years of my life. The early years are so full of acquiring things – skills, knowledge, education, experiences, someone to love, somewhere to live, something to do, something to drive, etc. To many people, the years after midlife seem to be more about loss but I see them as more about letting go; about checking my bags and enjoying the journey because everything I need awaits me there.

Packing in my hotel room, I was struck at how many things that felt essential for the trip down now felt completely, unnecessary for the trip home. I sense that same thing more and more as I’ve ventured into my fifties and as my children have reached adulthood. I’m releasing what I once thought I needed in order to live free, relaxed, and focused on only what will matter in that eternal space awaiting me.

Escaping the fate of becoming a cranky old bag may be mostly a matter of refusing to carry all that baggage around with us.

How about you? What bags are you checking for the journey home? What weighs you down that could just as easily be handed over to the airline staff? Are you ready to focus on the journey, your companions, and the open door of home?

If not? What’s holding you back?

Or have you not heard in Jesus’ own words the truth awaiting us: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 1-6 (ESV)

It’s a long, long journey but the best part, the one we can enjoy, is the journey home. So, check your bags, loved ones, and travel easy.

Have you figured out my exciting news from the clue in the last blog post? Here’s another CLUE. Send me note if you think you know my exciting secret or keep checking back for news about Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) due to release December 2.  Available now for preorder

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    The Conversation

  1. Cork Hutson says:

    It’s so true, Lori. Great analogy. The relieved and relaxed feeling when “going home” is always something to look forward to. I have never thought about applying it to going home to our real home, but that is a great way to look at it. I plan on incorporating this view into my own sojourning life. The other thing I have noticed is that we take way more stuff than we ever actually use or need for the trip. Thanks again for your posts. – Cork

  2. Maxine D says:

    Love this Lori – and yes, I also feel my need for ‘stuff’ lessening, and what I do have ,I hold more loosely.

  3. I receive the message about letting go of things. Thank you.
    Can’t imagine you’ll ever be a cranky old lady!

  4. More and more, things I’ve always considered to be treasures are beginning to feel like baggage. I love the memories, but am ready to let go of many of the material ties to them. Thank you for putting words to my quest of letting go. God Bless.