What’s in Your Backpack?

 Author and speaker  Rob Bell, in his short film  “Luggage”, talks about the wounds we all experience. Some are little and we should just get over them but some are big and heavy and deep. We want to be rid of these, free of them, put them behind us, right? Who wants to live life as the walking wounded? How do we do it though?  They can last a day, ten years or a lifetime until they are just a part of who we are. 

“We’ve all got scars. Words that were said to you when you were young… Things you saw that you should never have seen… Lifelong consequences from stupid decisions, whether ours or someone else’s…

Make sure that they are SCARS not WOUNDS. If you keep finding that you are sensitive about certain things, held back by the same unreasonable fears, or that you keep making the same bad decisions repeatedly, or that you have habits you just can’t quit…. chances are good that you have a wound that never healed right. It’s not a scar, it’s a wound or an infection. Get it cleaned out and get it healed. If that means you need to get some professional help, to talk to a trusted friend about it, or whatever – the only person that can make the decision to get that part of your life healed is you. A scar shows you’ve been through the process.

An overly sensitive attitude, a destructive habit, a fearful mindset just shows that you have a wound you need to work on”, writes author Josh Hatcher.

The day we found out a freshmen took his life at the high school where I work is the first night that I talked with James.** He was also a freshmen in that same school as well as a student at the youth non-profit where I volunteer. That evening I noticed he was eating dinner at a table by himself and I went to sit with him. We began to chat  about the sadness of the school day.

 I have never talked to a person who seemed as despondent and depressed as James. I sensed it was not just the loss that had happened at school but there was a heaviness about him like he had been carrying a load for so long. I was very alarmed.   

I spoke with the youth directors, asked our Preston Taylor Ministries (“PTM”) Board of Directors to pray for him at our meeting the next morning and went to school and asked our principal if he  could eat lunch with me in my office once a week. I also learned he was doing poorly in school.

Our first lunch, thinking he would not want to talk much, I was ready with a Yahtzee game. He talked through that lunch and every lunch as the school year progressed.   He shared that he hated school, he liked none of this teachers or classes. He felt dumb and angry that he felt dumb. He had experienced problems and losses at home as well. Things not in his control. He felt interested in nothing and good at nothing. 

I noticed he always wore his obviously heavy backpack on his back, never putting it down. One day I asked him, “James, what do you have in that backpack?”  “It’s just my stuff and I don’t want to put it down.”

I took the opportunity to tell him that every time we experience trauma or hurt in life it can be like a brick is put in our backpack. It gets heavier and heavier until we can hardly stand up if we can’t find a good way to unload the bricks. 

As the year went on, he was surrounded by caring adults  as well as being tested at school for learning differences. It seems the system had failed him as he should have been tested years prior. He did test with learning differences which explained his difficulties at school. How tragic that it took until high school to get the help he needed years before!

We now spent lunches talking through how he should not feel dumb or ashamed any longer. 

With love and support from home, school and PTM, by the end of the year James was smiling and his step seemed lighter. He was making some effort at school as he no longer felt “slow” and “dumb” but more optimistic that he could learn.  Being able to smile seems a small thing but very huge for this young man. #overcoming

What’s in your figurative “backpack”?    Maybe you have been carrying a heavy load for a long time.  I have certainly carried some heavy weights in my life. What wounds haven’t healed? God does not want us to live like that. Rob Bell says that maybe you should say, “I am not going to carry this around for one more day.” 

When I have finished with all I can do , I have found much peace from saying, “God, it is your turn. I  no longer know what to do.” And then I rest as carrying bricks around can be exhausting. And suck the life right out of you in some cases.

I hope you can find what makes you feel centered and peaceful.

I hope you write on the “tablet  of your heart” (from Proverbs) that you are loved and your wounds heal forming a scar that shows you are an overcomer.

This song is beautiful:

Keep the Faith #ktf



**Name changed to protect privacy. I was granted permission to share but decided not to use his real name anyway. 

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