I had dinner with my dad once and learned a lot about going places.
When it came to my dad, I carried some stuff around for a while. It was big, heavy stuff and had messed up our relationship . . . resentment, stubbornness, expectations and the heaviest of all . . . pride.
Have you ever had your luggage at the airport over the 50-pound checked-bag limit? I have. You and your bag are in it together and if you don’t take some stuff out, neither of you are going anywhere. Unless you lighten your load, you’re stuck.
I wanted a relationship with my dad, but I couldn’t travel closer to it with my overweight baggage. Our relationship was stuck . . . miles apart.
When my wife Claudia and I got engaged, I hadn’t spoken to my dad in 8 years! But she told me we weren’t getting married until she met my dad. I knew if I wanted to marry the woman of my dreams, I had to lighten my load. If I didn’t take inventory of my stuff, get on a plane and have dinner with my dad, she and I weren’t going anywhere together . . . and I’d be stuck single.
So, I left the stuff on the curb at the Atlanta airport and flew to Memphis, where Claudia and I had dinner with Dad. We ate steak and cried. We were finally able to travel together to a place previously impossible to get to for 8 years because my baggage was overweight.
It still happens though. I try to go places with too much stuff. I wish it was easy stuff to unload like socks and toothpaste. But it never is. It’s heavy stuff like . . .
A bad attitude and critical words.
Pride and entitlement.
Jealousy and comparison.
Expectations and opinions.
These things weigh me down big time. You know what’s way lighter? Kind words, gentleness, gratitude, empathy and courage. When I choose to travel with those things instead, it’s like taking a jackhammer out of my bag and replacing it with a box of chocolates. I’m clear to fly. And happier too.
Jesus chose to travel light and load His bags with love and grace. Those things kept Him moving toward people. He must have known a bunch of other stuff would have slowed Him down . . . which feels like good packing advice to me.
Sometimes the places we get to go are destinations on a map. I unloaded fear and ended up in Mogadishu, Somalia once. But more often, the places I get to go are in relationships. Moving closer to family, friends and Jesus. Those are the best adventures and the ones where I learn and grow the most.
Usually I need a push to take inventory of my stuff, get moving and get unstuck. My wife, my friends, some great mentors and words from Jesus and his pals have been super helpful for me. Their encouragement helps me take inventory of the stuff holding me back. And when I slow down and really listen, I know I’m moving closer to going places and doing more things like having dinner with my dad.
Scripture: So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. Now stay focused on Jesus . . . (Hebrews 12:1-2a)