Letting Go of Emotional Baggage
By Lisa Elliott
I’ve never been one to carry purses. There is, however, one tote I own that I’ve carried around for years. I call it the “just in case.” Perhaps you’re familiar with this case, and possibly even have one of your own!
Within my just in case I hold things like, hurts, disappointments, resentments, grudges, old sinful patterns, negative thoughts, harsh and painful memories, and even old, dying, or unhealthy relationships. Would you believe that within my case I even have a big picture album to keep faces of my offenders firmly planted in my mind’s eye? To make sure I don’t forget any of these things I have a thick tablet where I keep an up-to-date record of the wrongs done to me just in case I might need that record to defend myself. There’s also an old tape recorder stored there so that at any given moment I can replay some of the conversations that have hurt me.
But recently this case began to get very heavy. I knew there were things I was holding onto that the Lord wanted me to let go of, but I had grown attached to them. I had to ask myself why it was so important to hold onto all of these things.
The answer came with a rush of emotion in a conversation I shared with my Lord. My just in case had become so large that it was beginning to crowd the space.
The Lord directed me to Phil. 3:12-17, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I presented my case to Him and our conversation went something like this:
God: Lisa, I knew that case would eventually get too heavy for you to carry alone. Show me what’s in it.
Lisa: Okay, Lord, but it’s ugly.
God: Let’s see it anyway. Perhaps I can help you downsize a bit.
Piece-by-piece God began helping me to unpack my case and all the things that were invading the sacred place He longed to create in my heart.
God: Why were you hanging onto all of this?
Lisa: Just in case I might need it again someday.
God: Why would you need it?
Lisa: Because I don’t want to get hurt or disappointed again.
God: Lisa, do you trust Me?
Lisa: Much to my shame, Lord, I have to admit that there are obviously a few areas where I don’t.
God: Do you know what the opposite of trust is, Lisa? Doubt. Doubt is the soil in which fear grows. What are you afraid of?
Lisa: I’m afraid that you won’t protect or defend me when the time comes. I’m afraid of being hurt again. I’m afraid of being taken advantage of, abused, or taken for granted as I have been so many times when serving You. There have been times when I’ve been disappointed…especially by your children.
God: Don’t you think I know all about this? I haven’t promised that I’ll never allow any pain or sorrow or hurt or disappointment in your life. Remember, I watched my own Son suffer at the hands of my children. He stood silent while they rejected and abused and betrayed and denied Him. And do you know why?
God: To accomplish my greater purpose. Lisa, trust Me for the bigger picture in your life too. Remember…“I Am.”
I Am your Defender.
Trust that I have your back. Think of Job and Joshua, and Moses and David as they fought my battles. Trust that there are times when I’ll ask you to stand firm in the battle and to remain silent. And other times I’ll grant you the freedom to speak My truth in love.
I Am a Just God.
One day I will right all the wrongs. Trust that vengeance is mine (Rom. 12:19).
I Am Hope.
Trust me when you have been disappointed and have lost your hope. Hope in Me does not disappoint. Others will let you down. Things of this world will let you down. And for the record, this world is supposed to disappoint you in order to remind you that you were made for another world (Heb. 13:14).
I am the Living Word.
I have put my words in your mouth and cover you with the shadow of my hand. Trust that I will give you the words to say when the time comes. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit (Mk. 13:11-13).
I am your Redeemer.
Trust that I have your best interests at heart. For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you…plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).
I am unchanging amid all the change in your life.
Trust that I am using the changes at and around you to transform you into My likeness (Rom. 8:28, 29).
I am your strength.
Trust that My grace is sufficient for you. In your weakness My strength will be perfected (2 Cor. 12:9).
I am close to the brokenhearted.
I Am the Great Physician, Healer, and your Comforter. Trust me when your heart is broken. I save those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18).
Put your confidence in me. Being confident of this, that I began a good work in you and I will carry it on to completion (Phil 1:6). You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps 27:13). I am faithful. I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Maybe you should take some time to reflect and focus on Me instead of holding onto things of the past that are not life-giving. Trust that I live in the present. I have a purpose for your past and hold your future in my nail-scarred hands.
Lisa: Yes, Lord. You have provided for me in all sorts of ways. You have watched over me and protected me when I’ve likely not even realized it. You have walked with me through years of grueling ministry and have been there to encourage me and lift me up when I’ve become weary from warfare. You have validated me and cheered me on and encouraged me with Your Word. You have walked with me through the valley of the shadow of the death of my son. You have always been faithful. “Great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:23).
God: Good Lisa! Now back to that “just in case” that you carry. There’s no need for that once you’ve learned to trust Me. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” (1 Jn. 4:18).
Lisa: Lord, thank You for this reminder of who You are. I know that one day all wrongs will be made right. Justice will be done. You will rise and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. You will have the final word. Lord, on that day I will humbly approach Your throne and fall at your feet because I’ll see myself as I really am, and I will see You for who You are. Father, I do trust that when you remain silent there’s a greater purpose unfolding. With Job I declare, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (Job 19:25), and one day I’ll see for myself that He rules the earth! And there I rest my case!
How about you? Have you put your confidence in Him? Yes, it’s risky to trust God. Trusting in God requires surrender and often sacrifice. But you will be resting in the hands of the One who knows you best and loves you most. And it will be such a relief to get rid of that “just in case” bag that’s been weighing you down!
How to Present Your Case to the Lord
- Admit your fears. Perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn. 4:18).
- Be honest with Him. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge (Ps. 62:8).
- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”. (1 Pet. 5:7; Ps. 55:22).
- Reflect on His faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22, 23)
- Let go of things not worth your time, effort, or energy. Forget the past; choose not to remember; stop talking about the offense; keep no records of wrongs; let go of the grip these things have on you.
- Don’t simply empty your case; allow God to re-fill it with His goodness. (Phil 4:8).
- Rest your case. Leave it in the hands of the One who knows exactly what to do with