Forgiving yourself
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HAVE you seen people trying to catch their flight while loaded up with tons of luggage? It's quite hard to move along when you're overloaded. I know from personal experience. The same is true with intangible, emotional baggage. It's hard to make forward progress carrying tons of weight.

Whether Samsonite, Travelpro, Away, or AmazonBasics, there are a variety of travel bags people use. And similarly, there are wide varieties of emotional baggage that people carry too – jealousy, rejection, bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. And while most of these are usually directed toward others, they are oftentimes directed inward too. And those are the heaviest to carry.

I recall travelling with my daughter and my son from Barbados to Jamaica. My daughter was about three years old and my son was just one. I carried the stroller, a car seat, the baby bag, a knapsack, and my laptop bag with my laptop. I was going on vacation with the children, and I took work along and thought to make myself available for work opportunities while in Jamaica. Carrying all that stuff was overwhelming. It wasn't a good travel plan. I have learnt to carry only the essentials and to focus on the wonderful opportunity I have with my children. Similarly, if you're overweighed with emotional baggage, it will mess with your opportunities to make the most of your time and your life.

Right now someone is stuck, not able to forgive themself. They're there trying to advance in life while carrying tons of baggage of self-hate or depression because of something they did in the past. Chances are this is happening to someone near you: They maybe stole something, or said something, or slept with someone they shouldn't have. And they're finding it difficult to live with themselves. The Bible is excellent at helping us solve these life challenges. It says, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things." (1 John 3: 20 KJV) This is in regard to God's forgiving us of mistakes we've made. We are not greater than God, and since He forgives us, then we must forgive ourselves. We apologise for our offences to those we offend and to the Lord. We learn the lesson there is to learn and then we let it go and move on.

I recall being fed up with myself over a mistake I was frequently making. On one occasion I had expected to feel that God was livid with me and that He disliked me. To my surprise, when I went to pray I perceived His love and encouragement. I felt a sense of comfort and His insistence that I keep trying to be the best version of myself daily. It would have been a big mistake to condemn myself and wallow in self-pity or self-hate. Life happens, and times do get hard and we do make mistakes. We often then, in error, go pick up baggage we shouldn't carry. The smart thing is to lay down the heavy emotional baggage, like unforgiveness, directed at ourselves. If it's too hard to do alone, get help. An amazing future demands it of you. Find a good counsellor or a wise friend and ask for help.

Thank God I got help with my bags. On my return flight it just "coincidentally" happened that family friends were travelling on the same flight. They offered to handle my son and his stuff while I dealt with my daughter and our things. I literally sighed in deep relief. Getting help was amazing. Galatians 6:5 directs that everyone should be responsible for their own "burdens", making the point of personal responsibility for our "bags". But then verse two says to bear each other's burdens, making the point, too, that everyone should be willing to help others, and also be willing to seek help with their own bags.

Rev Christopher Brodber is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail him at chrisbrodber@yahoo.com.

Christopher Brodber

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