We are a camping family, or I should probably confess and say a ‘glamping’ family since we have an RV. Every time we have orders to move, I look forward to shedding the old house and moving into the tiny camper because we are all crammed in there together. I love that we can’t take much with us, so the typical explosion of clutter occurs on a much smaller scale. I love living like a turtle; we pull up the jacks and move to the next place, put the jacks down and voila! we are home. There isn’t any dragging bags into a hotel and back out again. My family isn’t sleeping in someone else’s bed a la The Three Bears. We don’t need to rely on restaurants for food or make complicated meals. Cable television is eclipsed by caveman television (or campfire); even better, you can use your caveman television to cook dinner. Life is so much simpler and lighter. When we are camping, I feel a kind of freedom that I can’t achieve in any other way.
Today I read an article in Taylor University’s Alumni Magazine. It’s entitled, “Peace Be Still,” and it addresses how a woman named Rhonda was able to forgive the person who sexually abused her. She has been able to reach out and live freely because the ball and chain of anger and unforgiveness aren’t holding her back anymore. In the article, a woman approaches her and says, “I can tell that you have been genuinely healed from sexual abuse, but I don’t know how.” Rhonda recounts how before she was able to forgive, she “had to control her environment. She was angry, always on edge.” Before she was able to forgive, Rhonda would have nightmares about her experiences that tormented her. Now, she lives in peace and freedom.
When Rhonda said she had been able to forgive, the other woman was taken aback. “It’s been years of anger that I’ve been able to stay safe-not forgiveness,” she explained. Anger was how she protected herself from additional harm. Rhonda then asked, “Do you have repetitive nightmares about the situation?” And the woman answered, “I don’t sleep.” To which Rhode asked a most thought-provoking and incredible question: “Tell me, what has your anger protected you from?”
Reading this article had a profound impact on me. It hurt my heart! I’m the angry one with lots of defenses built in. I feel a need to control my environment so that I don’t feel like a victim all over again. Although I never experienced sexual abuse, there was a lot of ugly and crazy that I survived as a child. I want to cry because I pray that God will help me forgive, but I still feel the pain. I’m slowly improving (at least according to my kind husband), but I really want instant results!
As I was mulling this, I was reminded that Jesus admonished his disciples to travel light. Mark 6:8 “Take nothing for the journey except a staff, no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.” There were probably several reasons for these instructions, but the importance was 1) traveling light allowed the disciples to move about unencumbered by things and 2) that God through His people would supply their needs.
I think Jesus’ instructions in traveling light, when considered in conjunction with the Fruits of the Spirit, can be applied emotionally. What emotions are light? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These allow a the heart and the soul to be free and unencumbered. More importantly, they allow the heart to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and there is room to allow others in. A heart full of anger, bitterness, impatience, and hatred is a heart that has the weight of a stone. There is no freedom in that; only bondage.
I want my heart to be light! I want it to be able to journey without strings holding it back or heavy luggage weighing it down. It needs to have wheels or wings so that I can do my Father’s bidding. After all, we’re all just visitors here. We aren’t home yet.