Raise your hand if you want to feel less overwhelmed.

Raise your hand if you want to be more connected to those around you.

Raise your hand if you want to engage well in self-care.

 

What a room full of hands we would have!

 

Okay, so now…

Raise your hand if you’re carrying some baggage.

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced shame.

Raise your hand if you’ve been convincing yourself you should be over it by now.

Something tells me if everyone was brave enough to admit it, we would have another room full of hands. I also know first hand that if we do not honestly consider the second set of statements, we will find achieving the first set nearly impossible.

DEFEATED

I recently missed a flight by six minutes. SIX stinkin’ minutes. The door to the connecting tunnel was closed, but there was my plane. I stood there panting and sweating, watching it for another three aching minutes before it took off. As I stood by for the airline attendant to assist me in finding a new flight, I begged my body not to cry. All the while I couldn’t help but fixate on my impending hypothermia, given my newly dampened clothes.

The feelings of powerlessness had been tossing around in the pit of my stomach since I entered the security line nearly an hour before. For those keeping score, that’s too long.

I knew I was cutting it way too close, so the minute my bag emerged from the security scanner, I carelessly threw on my shoes, swung my backpack over my shoulder and scooped up my laptop and iPad like a screaming baby. Running through the airport (to the actual furthest gate), I was so frustrated by my pace. My arms, hugging my electronics, swung side to side. My backpack shifted from hip to hip, pulling my body along with it, and my shoes kept slipping off. Honestly in hindsight, it would have been faster for me to walk backwards than to try to run to my gate.

My eyes welled up with defeated tears when I finally got to the gate to see that I was just a smidge too late. The closed door delivered its message loud and clear: you are not enough.

Even though I woke up at 4am,

Even though I was up past midnight packing and wrapping up my three jobs and washing my hair,

Even though I left on time,

It wasn’t enough.

OUR BAGGAGE

So often I throw out the phrase “work smarter, not harder.” But rarely do I catch it myself.

You and I, we work so hard. We’ve been working so hard, and it looks like we will continue to work so hard. What is it all amounting to? If that doesn’t leave you feeling like a deflated balloon, I don’t know what will.

Recently I’ve been reminded (yet again) that overworking could also be evidence that I’m not okay. Overworking is a common coping mechanism, a way to avoid and crowd out the painful noise we’d rather not acknowledge. No wonder all our striving isn’t getting us where we want it to. It’s weighed down, impeded from the start.

Rather than propelling us forward in life, the baggage we never dealt with is swinging us side to side.

The baggage I’m lugging around includes sexual assault (oof I guess I’m going there). Statistics reveal many of the women reading this have shouldered similar experiences as well. If you’ve avoided this statistic, I bet you fit into another devastating number. Maybe you’ve been impacted by divorce. Or maybe it’s death. Has addiction sideswiped you? What about discrimination? Maybe it’s a chronic illness. Chances are you are carrying heavy traumatic weights too.

And if my hunch is right, you’ve told yourself for a long time that you should be over it by now.

Ironically, the more we tell ourselves this, the longer it takes us to actually heal and clear the fog of our repressed pain.

THE BALANCING ACT

If you’re like me, you might avoid acknowledging and dealing with your trauma because you don’t want to throw off the balance you have going right now. Well friend, I will ask myself the same question I will ask you: are you really in balance?

Are you always on the verge of tears?

Is your soul weary beyond comprehension?

Is your sanity dependent on the nightly glass of wine or the carousel of Amazon packages landing on your doorstep?

I would argue your balance is already off.

Take a slow, steady breath and consider what it would look like to send your baggage through a security check. What are you carrying that poses a threat to you and the people travelling with you? There is no weakness or drama in admitting that something from a decade ago is robbing you of today.

Oftentimes our minds shield us from our trauma until we are in a place of safety. When our body knows we can process the difficult truths of our stories, it will let details leak out little by little. In those moments it’s so tempting to stuff it back down. Through Christ we can do all things, and we are conquerors in Him, after all. May I make the case that we subtly cheapen the impact of the gospel by minimizing the weight of our burden?

Maybe this is the week where you think about potentially dealing with your unresolved trauma… eventually… some day.

Maybe this is the week you stop running side to side, confirming what the thief says when he whispers “you are not enough.”

You are enough because God has said enough.

Enough with the shame.

Enough with the blame.

Enough with the unacknowledged, but ever present spirit of defeat.

God honors our pain because He knows you cannot heal from what you do not feel.

And if you believe that God is enough to create the world and defeat sin and death, then surely He is enough to carry you and your people while you unpack, unravel and untangle the luggage warping your back and digging into your shoulders.

Trust that He will get you where you need to go, but it might require lightening your load.

He says you are worth it. Will you believe Him?

Charissa Brim
Charissa Brim

The stories of our lives matter, but often the most impactful stories are the ones that go unspoken.
Through narrative nonfiction, Charissa helps others who have been impacted by trauma, namely sexual assault, move from a place of disconnection to connection. She believes when we are able to connect to our lives, our people and our stories, we perpetuate healing in ourselves and in others. By making sense of our varied trauma responses, Charissa invites us to heal and live life to the brim.

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