When soldiers return from a mission it is standard practice for them to be debriefed on the events and accomplishments of their time in the field. This is not just for the sake of intelligence gathering, it is also a tool to bring something of resolution to the soldiers for what they faced in battle. The same is true for soldiers returning from war with emotional damage and psychological scars, the standard treatment for post traumatic stress disorder includes providing a rational context to find handles for the emotions, memories, and life experiences of that soldier at war so that they can achieve some resolution and to some degree put it behind them and so better reintegrate into civilian life and reconnect with the people they love.
Re-engaging the past, re-evaluating our memories, and awakening the emotions, images, and experiences of situations that were left unresolved for us, is a requirement for finding peace not just in the case of soldiers returning from war, but in all of our lives when we face things that are beyond our ability to process in the moment we experience them. Things that are beyond our emotional depth and outside of our rational comprehension. Its what some people call baggage. Everything that we have pushed off or stuffed down for some other day. All that we have left to be dealt with eventually, but we just don’t want to face yet. For all this unresolved, incomplete, unprocessed junk – God promises us resolution.
When we really engage reality it is both challenging and encouraging. It means that we will have conflict, discomfort, and personal change. But it also means that we can achieve real results. We can make lasting improvements to our relationships, we can turn past failures into future successes, and we can receive blessings and restoration in areas of our lives where we have learned to expect curses and damage.
Like soldiers facing life and death on the battle field, we face our successes and failures every day and deal with them in the moment as best we can. But we need to know that nothing has to be left for the someday, somewhere bucket when it comes to towing around our baggage. God’s promises are clear. God gives us the opportunity to put down our baggage. And that opportunity starts with prayer.
Prayer is our opportunity to debrief with God. Tell Him what you know about the situation that left you holding the bag, what you did, what others did, what results you achieved, and why you feel like something was left undone or done wrong. Be specific. Be honest. Be completely open. Don’t try to be politically correct. Don’t try to sound holy or right. Don’t take sides or try to sound like the hero. Don’t beat around the bush. And most of all, don’t you be the judge. Put it squarely on His shoulders to show you the right and the wrong. Let God provide you with the solution.
God answers all prayers. Often even as we are speaking we know deep down in our soul what He is telling us. Sometimes, like Samuel in the Bible, we don’t really hear God the first time and so He has to repeat Himself several times until we realize who it is that’s talking. And like any relationship, as we get to know God better, we get to understand how He talks and what He says better as well. At first we may project a lot of our own thinking on God, or our expectations might color our understanding of what He says. But as we become friends and we start to see more and more of who God is, our expectations change, and our willingness to accept Him for who He is takes our conversations to a whole new level. Because it is when we talk to God, and hear His Word for our lives, that we are able to find the resolution that He promises for every moment of our lives from now to eternity.
God has promised us resolution and restoration. God knows every moment of your life and the lives of all the people around you. And although I cannot tell you the specific solutions to each bag on your luggage cart, I know the one who can. Talk to God, to Jesus Christ Himself, and He will take your baggage piece by piece and show you what you can do with it.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30