Previously, I shared Episode 2 of Baggage Free Living, My Shame Story. I learned from my journey through shame that I did not have to be defeated by it. The examples and lessons I found in God’s word are priceless. You know sometimes if you really dive into the Word, you find so much that is relatable. As I said before, to overcome the shame, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being open to hearing what the Lord says through His word can bring the most incredible light bulb moments.

I read in Mark 10:46-52 about “Blind Bartimaeus”. His name meant son of the unclean. His family history defined him, and he was labeled son of a vile (unclean) man, defiled, without honor or of low character/reputation, disgrace, burdensome from day one. Bartimaeus did not choose the label. The label was given by his family history and the world’s opinion. He carried it for a long time as his identity. The garment he wore symbolized this baggage. It was a garment of shame and disgrace. As he encountered Jesus, he cried out. Despite others telling him to be quiet, he continued to cry out. Bartimaeus knew he needed help, and he cried out to the one that could rescue him. When Jesus called him closer, it empowered Bartimaeus to throw off the thing that hindered him. The cloak of disgrace could not keep him from the light.  Being exposed to the light was just what was needed for him to be healed and whole. It took a step out of his comfort zone.  It took a step of faith. The throwing off of his garment reminds me of the verse I wrote about in Baggage Free Living. Throwing off the baggage that hinders us from being all we can be in Christ and all we can be to this world is a choice. To overcome my own life luggage, I, too, had to encounter Jesus. I had to make the choice that I would no longer participate in the thought pattern I had been stuck in for so long. That encounter empowered me to throw off the baggage, the labels, the shame and defeat!

 Another example is found in John 5:1-8, the story of the man at pool of Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda was where those with different infirmities gathered. An infirmity is defined as an unsound, unhealthy, debilitated state; imperfection of body or character. Sound familiar?  Sounds a lot like the baggage of life. When I think about the pool of Bethesda, I think about the Church. Isn’t that what the Church should be? A place where the imperfect and those in a debilitated state gather. So this guy with this affliction had been hanging at this pool for 38 years. Jesus comes to the pool and asks the man, “Do you want to be well?” Do you ever feel Jesus is asking you that? Or maybe you ask yourself that question. The man goes on to explain why he’s never been able to take the step to healing. He says that no one’s there to help him or that someone is always in his way. He resorted to excuses and blame. Sometimes I think we find excuses not to take the step toward healing because we’ve become comfortable with carrying the baggage. Almost as if we have become attached to it. The man’s focus was on the obstacles. I’m sure he felt overlooked and bypassed. From the story, it seems like he’s too focused on how he feels and on blaming others. I have been in that place. When my focus was off, I needed an encounter with Jesus. Just as this man did, I needed some movement from Jesus. Jesus directs the man to get up. From his obedience, the man was healed. Jesus understood the man’s condition, and he understands our condition. He will direct you, and it’s up to you to obey. Jesus directed the man to get up and move forward. Many times in life people speak something into our lives and we replay it over and over in our heads until we accept it as truth. Sometimes these are things that were said to us even in childhood, and we carry it as a permanent piece of baggage. Be sure to check the source when you are receiving words spoken into your life. Were these words from a place of love? Do these words align with what Jesus says? If the words are life, then, by all means, accept them and apply them. If the words do not bring life and do not align with Jesus’ teaching, then drop them off at the dumpster as unneeded baggage. To overcome the negative words spoken into your life, I have learned that it’s so important to replace the things said in the past with what Jesus says about you. Jesus knows your condition, but sees what you can be, not in spite of what’s been said or what you’ve done, but because of those things. He wants to use all that baggage to create someone that will bring glory to him.  Choose to get up and move forward! Lay all the excuses and blame aside! Let Jesus speak his truth into your life and make him your focus!

Mark 5:24-34 is the story of the woman with the issue of blood. This penetrated my heart in a very deep way as I worked my way out of the pit of shame. I really related to this lady and her shame. I couldn’t help but think about my own shame story. Many of you have probably heard this story in Mark. I had heard this story many times myself, but a couple years ago, this story touched me in a very tender place in my heart. That’s the beauty of the living word of God! You can read the same thing a million times over, and then one day those words touch a nerve. As Dee Brestin put it in Idol Lies, the word becomes radioactive. So anyway, this lady in the story lived a life of rejection and shame. She had been considered unclean for 12 years which, in that time, meant she lived in isolation and loneliness. She had no connection and received no affection. Then one day she stepped out in faith. She stepped out believing that she could be healed and set free from this life of rejection. Her bold move could have cost her life, but she was so determined to be free she was willing to be vulnerable and risk it all. She comes out of isolation to have an encounter with Jesus. Her faith in Jesus’ ability to heal her made her brave. So she made the move toward Jesus despite her shame and rejection. Armed with her faith, she knew that just one little touch could heal her. The story says she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. The garment in this story is known as tzitzit (pronounced seat-seat) in Hebrew. This was a garment worn by Jewish men as a reminder of their obligations to God. The tzitzit was sacred and very personal. Only the most intimate of relations like a wife, mother or daughter could touch the garment. Touching this as an unclean woman of no relation was very risky. She reached out and touched the tzitzit. Jesus’ response was priceless. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” He gave her the title of an intimate relation. He called her daughter. This made it acceptable for her to touch him. Not only did it make it acceptable, but by identifying her as his daughter saved her life.  By calling her daughter, it removed all charges that could come against her. He removed all blame and shame in that moment. Jesus gave her a new identity. She stepped out, received a touch, and accepted a new identity. This resonated with me on so many levels. I remember the moment I realized Jesus called me daughter. This was the realization that changed my entire perspective and saved my life! I grasped for the first time in my life that I didn’t have to hide behind shame anymore. I understood that Jesus gave me a new identity, and in that identity I was free to be me, authentic Amanda. Being Jesus’ daughter meant I had a name with dignity and worth, and I would no longer isolate myself from relationship. This new consciousness proclaimed a truth in my heart. The truth is what isn’t revealed can’t be healed. Shame loses its power when it’s exposed. Shame had caused me to isolate myself from meaningful relationships for most of my life. However, that one step out into the light of Jesus changed it all. Jesus calls us to run toward him, not to hide. In verse 33 of this passage, the lady tells him the WHOLE truth. I truly believe wholeness and healing comes when we’re honest with ourselves and honest with Jesus. Telling the whole truth is the first step in not only receiving God’s forgiveness, but also in forgiving ourselves. Give Jesus the opportunity to call you daughter!  Take on your new identity! That identity offers freedom from shame, but you have to go through the process. The lady in this story went through the crowd to obtain the healing, freedom and new identity. Jesus’s response, “Daughter, Go in peace & be freed from your suffering.” Are you willing to go through the process?

What wounds & afflictions have you been carrying? How long has it been? Has a label or shame thing attached itself to you? Take a few minutes to pray and think about your life luggage. Whether you picked up the baggage 20 years ago or last week. Think about it. What’s in the bag? Is it heavy?  Is it full? Are you weary from carrying it? What else could you be doing instead of maintaining your baggage? Are you ready to be freed from it? Do you want a new identity? Are you ready to reveal it?

Journaling has helped me get some of my baggage out. It is a safe place to tell the WHOLE truth to yourself and to Jesus. Remember, what isn’t revealed can’t be healed. You can keep this between you and the Lord. However, as I shared in Baggage Free Living, sometimes it helps to have someone walk alongside you through the wilderness journey that leads to healing. Write down the thing or things that weigh you down. Write down those things that have kept you from relationship, kept you isolated. Maybe you feel rejected by God because of life’s circumstances. Take the first step to heal today.

You can be free from the life luggage. Jesus will exchange that luggage for freedom. You will go from a place of barely surviving to thriving and flourishing. Take the thing that’s been holding you back, keeping you from moving forward, and weighing you down to the light.

A couple years ago on a women’s retreat I shared my journey of overcoming shame. At the retreat, we wrote down the labels, failures, offenses, anger, hurt, guilt, secrets, pride, habits, resentment, unworthiness, rejection, etc. and we put it in the fire. The fire provided the symbolic light and purification we needed. We exchanged all these things (spirit of heaviness) for a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3).

The fire was a physical symbol of what we were doing spiritually.

The fire symbolized our Creator, a consuming fire. He consumed our baggage.

The fire provided light. The light revealed, so we could be healed.

The fire took the big baggage and broke it down so it could be dealt with.

The fire produced a change. It separated us from our baggage.

Fire purifies, giving us a clean slate, a new identity.

Jesus, thank you for setting me free and continually taking me through the process. I praise you for being with me on the wilderness journey to a place of healing and wholeness. You know each and every person that has read the Baggage Free Living series. You see each heart and each piece of life luggage. I ask you now to please touch them and reveal yourself to them so that they might experience a new identity and a new life in you. Praise your Holy name! Amen!

©2018 Amanda Bordner

Follow me on Twitter @amanda_bordner

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