What are we carrying?

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
“Lord, I don’t want to make my journey harder than it already is. I don’t want to drag around weighty things like bitterness, jealousy, pain, and frustration. Today, I lay those things down. Please refill my spiritual luggage with peace, joy, hope, and gentleness.”
(From Daily Wisdom for Women)

In a recent column I wrote about baggage and told the funny story of the lady in the airport refusing to pay for the second bag she had packed and wanted to take on her trip. Instead she layered everything in that bag on her person and slapped the piece of luggage on her head and called it her new hat. She intended to have her way and to ignore the newly posted rules about second pieces of luggage.

Do you know when we are at our most vulnerable? Do you know when we are most tempted to lash out at someone and take out our bad day, our anger, and our disappointment on others? Do you know when we are most likely to slip up and show our so-called superiority? Are you aware of when we are about to let the ugly out on parade?

I don’t believe that we act so badly when we are hurting, when we are praying for a victory, when we are helping others, when we are grateful for what God has given us, or when we are perhaps not physically well. I think we are more dangerous and haughty when we think we are on top of the world, when we think we are more intelligent, have more, or are favored by people, secured that great job, got that sharp new vehicle, see our children succeed in life, or purchased that new beach or lake front home.

Like the woman in the airport layered on her clothing, we find ourselves layering on bitterness, rudeness, jealousy, pain, frustration, anger, sin, and ugly. The devil is a smart character. He doesn’t come at us in manners that we often recognize. He is subtle, sometimes very quiet, and he moves in little by little. What are we carrying?I will never forget the story of the frog in boiling water that I told to my children’s church students years ago. No frog with any sense would jump into a pot of boiling water and stay while waiting to die. Instead, he gets into warm water, and learns to relax, enjoying himself, and forgetting the cares of his life. He might even ask a friend or several friends over to join him in his hot tub. But as the frog relaxes, the devil slowly and quietly turns the heat up little by little until the frog is boiled and he doesn’t even know that it has happened until it is too late.

Maybe we have a good job, are paid well, have a wonderful family, decent health, and serve the community. Little by little, we begin to feel that we are just a bit better than the average Jack or Jill and that we are so needed. No one can really take our place. And, then one day, we are not having such a great shift at work, we find we owe something that we did not know about, the taxes increased yet again, or God have mercy, our mate is ill and dying. We lash out at whomever happens to cross our path, but it doesn’t come from that day’s activities. It comes from that wealth of ugly we have been storing up in our own heart. Little by little, like the frog, we have been adding layers of ugly to our being and not catching and correcting the feelings until they overpower us.

When we work hard, give of ourselves, and invest in cause or a community, we tend to get tunnel vision and think that there are few doing what we do. We begin to think others do not know or do not care, when in realty, they are working just as hard and giving just as much without pay or thanks. We think we are the only game in town. I can assure you we are not the only game in town and folks have been playing and will continue to play the game long after we are gone. One little thing ticks us off and we snap and give a rude reply and act all bothered because a person did not recognize who we are or what we do.

Lord, help us all to strip away those old layers of bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, and ugly, and realize that every person is valuable and that every human being can contribute if given the opportunity.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or
brendacannonhenley@yahoo.com.

[4-16-2018]

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