By Nate Keeler, @MBCArlington Campus Pastor
DEALING WITH YOUR BAGGAGE
Recently, I started a blog series addressing one of the biggest challenges facing millennials today: Delayed adulthood. This cultural epidemic is a destructive philosophy built on the false premise that you can wait until you are 40 (or older) to pursue maturity in various areas of your life without incurring any problems. To the contrary, delayed adulthood robs us of our true joy, purpose and significance during the most available and passionate years of life while sowing future seeds of destruction.
One way that many young adults delay adulthood is by avoiding their childhood baggage. And believe me, we have tons of it. Let’s look at some statistics*.
- 24 million children (34%) live without their biological father.
- 27% live in single-parent homes.
- 1 million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.
- 6 million children are abused in some way every year.
- Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped or were victims of attempted rape (44% of victims are under age 18).
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that we all have baggage with a range of severity from our childhood or teens of some type.You might feel like you are alone with your baggage, but believe me, as a pastor I talk to guys and gals regularly who have dysfunctional family issues, abuse issues, sexual regrets, addictions and other baggage that they have yet to unpack. Let’s get real—the vast majority of young men (my guess from seven years of young adult ministry is about 85%), Christian or not, have an ongoing addiction to some version of pornography. This number is growing among young women as well.
And yet, it pains me to know that many of us would rather delay, ignore or attempt to bury this baggage. This is pure self-deception. Check out Proverbs 14:8, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”
The prudent person is someone that sees that their past, present and future are all connected. This person carefully considers their “ways” (the patterns, decisions and baggage from the past) so that they can heal, make changes and ultimately mature. However, the fool doesn’t see the connection between their past, present and future. The fool thinks that the past won’t hinder them and their baggage won’t hold them back. The truth is, turning 40 won’t fix it. Burying it won’t fix it. Marriage won’t fix it. And having kids won’t fix it. But all of this will make it worse—guaranteed.
So what do we do with our baggage? Here are some short thoughts.
1. Desire to deal with your baggage
If you don’t, pray and ask God to give you the desire fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Be honest
Ephesians 5:13 show us that the first step is getting this baggage out into the light so we can begin healing. We need to be honest with ourselves, with God and with other godly people that we trust about our baggage.
3. Study Scripture that targets your baggage
You need to understand what God has to say about it and how He tells us to address it.
4. Talk to a pastor
Seek counsel and recommended resources for your baggage. There are lots of godly experts within the body of Christ that God intends for us to utilize for healing.
5. See a Christian counselor
For the same reason above.
6. Pursue regular biblical community
Join a small group—this is how we carry out “one another” passages in Scripture (bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, pray for one another, etc.) for our healing and transformation.
I can tell you from personal experience that while it is painful in the short-term to deal with your baggage, it will produce a harvest of maturity and freedom in the future. So dig deep and press on toward maturity in Christ!
*Statistics from Restoring Manhood by Eric Mason, National Census, the CDC, RAINN and NY Times
Read Part 1 of “Don’t Wait Until You’re Older”