There is an art to traveling overseas for an extended time. Unfortunately, in 2008 we had not mastered that art. You see, we were going on sabbatical to Europe for five weeks. But we did not go lightly.
The biggest mistake of our trip happened in our room when we were packing. We each had a smaller suitcase and were plotting out what to take and how to pack it tightly. That’s when one of us—I will not mention who it was—but that’s when Karen said, “Why don’t we pack our things together in one suitcase?” We went from two small suitcases to one large suitcase. Same amount of stuff crammed into one container. Made sense.
Until we got to Europe and started climbing onto trains. You see, you don’t check your baggage through trains like you do on an airplane. You take your luggage onto the train with you and you put it in an overhead bin. Because Europeans travel by train and usually go for short day or weekend trips, the bins are small. Made for small suitcases. Like the two we left back home.
We had one large, heavy suitcase. Each of our sons had their suitcases. We had a guitar. We had two backpacks. And when we tried to load all of this on our first train we almost had a meltdown. We couldn’t get into our cabin. The people behind us couldn’t get on the train. They were stacked up like cars on a Houston freeway at rush hour. We felt the pressure of too much to carry and too little space for it.
Maybe life feels like that for you today. You’re carrying around more than you were designed to carry. So did the Prodigal Son. When he came home his father embraced him and kissed him. Then he said to his father, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
His father has given him grace and he still says, “I am not worthy…” He’s carrying baggage called shame. Brene Brown has done great work in the area of understanding shame. She says shame is lethal in our lives. It keeps us from living the life God intended. It makes us live instead the life we think others want us to live.
You can detect shame in your life by your self-talk. “I am stupid. I’m a loser. I’m such a mess up.” That’s shame speaking. The focus is on self.
Counteract shame in your life by changing your self-talk from focus on self to focus on behavior. “I made a stupid decision last night.” “I wasn’t thinking.” “What I did was wrong.” We need to get clear about our self-talk and the effect of shame on our lives.
Brown says that the difference between guilt and shame is this: guilt says “I did something wrong” whereas shame says “I am wrong.”
The father in the story helps his son think differently by giving him the best robe, a ring and sandals.
- In the ancient world the best robe in a family was the father’s robe. He covered his son with his own robe. The act said, “You are enough.”
- A ring represented authority and power. The son came home thinking he had no future. Now his was secure.
- And sandals were worn only by family members. Servants of the household were barefoot. The sandals placed on the son who hoped to only get the place of a hired servant told him he was accepted.
My guess is his self-talk changed. And yours can too. If you have been baptized into Christ, you have been “clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). You’ve been given the covering you need. You can say, “I am a child of God” (Galatians 3:26).
By Venice we got tired of the excess baggage. We tossed the large suitcase, bought a smaller one, and traveled lighter the rest of the trip. You can too. Put your shame away. Change your self-talk. There’s a Father running to you that wants to clothe you with all you need to carry through life. And it will be enough.
Question: What shame are you carrying around that is making your journey heavy?