How much time do you spend lamenting the past? Are there mistakes you have made that you wish you could make right? People who have harmed you that you need to forgive? Every moment we spend stuck in the past is excess baggage that weighs us down—slows us down—and makes forward progress difficult if not impossible.
I have always loved books. You might say they are a weakness of mine. When I was a child, old enough to know better, but not quite old enough to be wise, I stole a book. I started reading it in a car when I was being given a ride home and I had not quite finished it by the time we reached my house. Instead of simply asking if I could borrow the book, I just took it with me.
That action has haunted me all my life. I was so embarrassed by the theft that I told no one for over 30 years. Every time I looked at the book I was mortified with shame, so I donated the book to a good cause thinking that would let me off the hook. Of course, it didn’t. I still thought about that book now and then. It caused me endless moments of anxiety. It colored my view of myself, for I knew that I had not acted with integrity. I fretted and suffered. The act sat like a stone in my heart that grew heavier with the passing years.
Then one day…I confessed. I went to the person I had wronged and I made what emends I could, asking for their forgiveness. To them it was a silly thing. They didn’t even know they had been wronged. To me, it was shedding a weight that I had been dragging along with me for decades. The relief was indescribable. Such a small thing, but what an impact it made on my life.
We accumulate all kinds of baggage in this life as we wend our way. Much of it we choose to carry with us even when it makes us miserable and serves no purpose. Whether it be baggage from our own mistakes or anger and hurt that we feel toward others, freedom comes when we take the time to evaluate what weighs us down and then resolve it. You don’t need to carry it any longer. Put down your excess baggage and find the lightness and joy of being free.