There was a little girl and she was so excited when she got a new backpack. This backpack was going to carry all of the important things she loved: her stuffed animals, books, and a notebook. She loved to write and she would pretend that she could write in cursive making random squiggly marks as she pretended to take notes and be a Charlie’s Angel on roller skates.
She wore this backpack everywhere. It became a part of her. She began to place other things in her backpack. She trusted others. She trusted what they said and what they said must be true. She was not as smart as her brother. She was big boned. She was mean. They wished she was a boy. She talked too much. She whined too much. She was in the way.
She put these things in her backpack. Everyone had a backpack, she was sure of it. She carried her backpack daily. At night she would not take off her backpack. She would shift it around in her bed, but she continued to hold it and she would think about all of things that were in there.
As she grew, she took the backpack with her. Placing things in it. Some things were big, some things were small, but they all mattered. It had become dirty and worn. It had become very heavy. She couldn’t imagine herself without the backpack. She carried it because it was hers. It seemed that nobody else had one of these backpacks.
As the days grew into years, she would shift her backpack. There were days when the backpack was light and she would forget she carried it. She was around her friends and she would laugh. There were also days that she felt so tired and overwhelmed. The backpack was heavy and she wasn’t sure she could carry it much longer. Some days she would open her backpack and the contents would spill out. What a mess!!!! She would quickly pick up all the things and shove them back into her backpack, looking around and making sure nobody saw it. She would shove everything in and stand up tall. I got this! I am fine.
As she became a mom and a wife, the backpack bulged. There wasn’t much more that could go in her backpack. But before she knew it, she was asked to carry more and she would always find a way to shove one more thing inside it.
Until one day the strap and zipper broke. After years of holding and carrying, shifting and rearranging, the backpack crashed to the floor. The contents were everywhere in front of her, her eyes were wide with fear, sadness, regret, shame, and guilt. What a mess she had made! What a mess of things she had collected over the years. She kneeled down and cried. The pain and relief of having the backpack off her shoulders felt wonderful. At first, she looked around to see who was looking. Nobody was. People passed her going along their way. They didn’t notice. Relief. Nobody needed to see this.
She then felt something on her shoulder. A hand. She looked around and nobody was there. She felt warmth at the same time she felt pain. She began to cry again because she needed to clean up this mess but she did not want a new backpack. If she doesn’t put this in the backpack, where does she put it?
“Give it to me.”
She heard this in her head and had no idea what it meant. She couldn’t carry anything anymore.
She did not clean it up fast, it was too much. She took two big boxes. One she labeled “God”, the other she labeled “Treasures”. Every day she picked up a small part of the mess and decided what to do with it. Some days she just held it, examined it, cried over the memory of why it was in her backpack. Some days those tears were sad and on other days the tears were happy. She chose what box she would place it in and move along her day. When she returned, the box labeled “God” would be empty despite the things put in it. It was as if they had disappeared. She would panic at the thought of it being gone, but felt peace not being able to see it.
She left the mess sprawled out and began living life without her backpack. It was scary at first, but the light feeling made her giggle. She decided what pain she would keep and the pain she would surrender. Some of that pain was a part of who she would always be. But, she would not carry that pain daily. She did not have to become her burden. She did not have to become her pain. She could finally learn who she was and what she was created to be…on her timetable. She slowly threw the backpack into the blazing fire and watched it melt away.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
And He does…maybe not instantly. The process can take time. Slowly and quietly, she learned to rest in the process.