Carrying Weight 2

Chances are, you have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago we were packing for a week at Disney.

No, professional movers or U-Haul were not involved.

Anyway, when Robin got everything loaded into three suitcases that a near-grown human could fit into, she asked me to weigh the luggage to make sure she had thought of everything.

Um, I mean, to make sure it fit within airline regulations.

We have this handy little scale that picks up the suitcase by the handle and lets you know what you’re asking those baggage handlers to tote ‘n’ hurl. I picked up the first.

“Forty pounds,” says I.

“See what that feels like?” says my ever-wise wife. “That’s what you’re no longer carrying around.”

I should point out here that in the last five months I’ve lost about that much weight. And that little luggage exercise was enlightening.

I picked it up again, holding the scale and entire weight of the suitcase in one hand. That was what I had been carrying around, day-in, day-out, but had now shed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

I was impressed how ordinary and normal my extra “baggage” was. How easy it was to justify myself, despite the fact that 20 years ago I weighed about 60 pounds less. And how much I was presuming upon my created-by-God body to do in overtime.

I just didn’t realize how much weight I was carrying.

“I never knew it was there.”

This isn’t about diets (the first three letters of which still spell “die”).

It is about weight.

The weight you carry.

The weight I carry.

Specifically, the weight that can’t be measured by handy little scales.

Fresh from my Disney experience (if the word “fresh” can describe how somebody feels after a week there), I was reading a student’s paper and found this beautiful testimony:

“The moment I let go of my own agenda, I had this weight lifted off my shoulders that I never knew was there.”

There it is again. The weight we carry. The “stuff” we shoulder and soldier on. And in one of the biggest cons of life on this planet, we watch the sun set day after day on lives that didn’t die because of all that weight… so we assume we’re fine.

But just because you didn’t die yesterday doesn’t mean you truly lived. And it certainly doesn’t mean you set yourself up yesterday to flourish today.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages believers with this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1, NLT).

The Problem with Hidden Weights

Believe it or not, Christians in some places in the world still believe there’s a such thing as sin. I know that’s a quaint, silly notion to many people, but by and large we still seem to get the thing about “the sin that so easily trips us up.” I’m more concerned about the phrase, “every weight that slows us down.”

Not necessarily sinful. Not helpful, either.

Not really offensive to God. Not really beneficial to you, either.

But because you were designed with a system that is extraordinarily resilient, you have the capacity to run on fumes for weeks and months – in some cases for years. The added weight becomes your new normal – and that’s the problem!

The problem with hidden weights is that they’re so hidden in plain sight.

So how can you recognize what may be slowing you down? The answer to that will require a little courage and some maturity. Courage because you’re going to face the fact that you can be your own worst enemy. And maturity because you may have to let go of some things that the girl or guy next to you doesn’t have to let go of, and you’re going to be tempted to whine about it all being so unfair.

Get over it. Or die too soon… your call.

Meanwhile Back at the Farm

One of the secrets to identifying our hidden weights can be found in Jesus’ familiar story of the Sower. In the parable Jesus describes some of the seed that fell among the weeds. The ground there (which represents your heart) gave the same nourishment to unnecessary and choking weeds that it did to the farmer’s crop. And here is Jesus’ haunting description of how that describes life today:

…but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful (Mark 4:19, ESV).

In agricultural terms, there are roots and chutes, but no fruit. The plant looks “normal,” with one exception – it doesn’t complete the purpose for which it was created.

And if you’re languishing under the hidden weights, neither will you.

So where do these weights hide and how can we expose them? Here, based on Jesus’ words, are three places you may want to look:

1. What you worry over.

Okay, I know you never worry. But you are certainly concerned about things and care about things because after all, you have a lot of responsibilities. And maybe you have too many responsibilities. Maybe you have too many gadgets to recharge, too many relationships to manage, too many social media contacts to cover, too many debts and obligations to pay, too many questions to answer, too many promises to keep.

What’s keeping you awake at night? What dominates your conversations? What’s your ever-present “elephant in the room?” What are the key people in your life sick of even bringing up because you’re so defensive, blind to, or stubborn about letting go of? What have you decided can’t be handled by any other human on God’s great earth but you?

Hey Elsa! Let it gooooo, let it goooooo…

2. What you’re fooled by

Jesus referred to the “deceitfulness of riches.” And boy, can money and material things be deceiving – whether you have them or not.

So what are you blinded by when it comes to “stuff?” When did somebody recently ask you, “Do you really need all this?” When was the last time you got something you really wanted, and now wish you had never owned it (or it owned you)?

What relationships have been fractured or weighed down in your world because of money? Is it really worth that?

For that matter, how much of your world has been dominated by false beliefs that begin with “I must…?” Or stupid vows that begin with “Never again…?”

In no time, the things you think can make your life better or safer or more desirable can become dreary weights hanging on your shoulders that you don’t even realize you’re carrying.

3. What you’re determined to have.

See Scarlet.

See Scarlet hunger.

See Scarlet dig for potatoes.

See Scarlet come up with dirty, empty hands.

Hungry, hungry Scarlet.

See Scarlet hold up her fist.

See Scarlet’s fist shaking and shaking.

Angry, angry Scarlet.

Listen! Scarlet is making a vow.

“As Gawd is mah witness, Ah’ll nevah go hungry again!”

See Scarlet’s heart.

See it harden before your very eyes.

Harden, heart, harden.

See Scarlet decide that nothing will ever stop her from getting what she wants.

Poor, poor Scarlet.

And poor, poor you, if you can never take “no” for an answer.

I’m a firm believer that there is always a way to get what you want. I’m also a firm believer that some of those ways send leanness to your soul, emptiness to your spirit (and in some cases jail time to your record).

“But I want it!” makes sense to a three-year-old.

Stop being a three-year-old.

More importantly, look for the areas in your life where you are carrying ridiculous loads because of something you are determined you must have.

Get Another Perspective

One last point. This is deeply profound, so get your head clear for this one.

Ready?

Know why hidden weights are hidden?

Because you can’t see them.

I know! See? Told you it was deep.

So you can go through all those mental gymnastics above, and still miss your “elephant in the room” because to you the elephant is the room and you can’t even recognize life without the elephant anymore.

That’s why you need somebody else looking at your life. Somebody you have given permission to ask the tough questions. To probe. Challenge. Encourage. And speak truth, or at least perspective into your life.

One coach like that is worth their weight in gold.

One friend like that has immeasurable worth.

A community of friends like that can rock your world.

Maybe it’s time to wise up – and recognize that what’s weighing you down is your own stupid agenda.

Aren’t you ready to lose a little weight?

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