If all of your life experiences became something you could hold in your hand, what would they look like? What would they feel like? Would they be weighty in your palm?
If you took that life experience and put it inside a backpack that you carried around on your person as long as you live, would it be a heavy bag to bare?
Would your life experiences build up in that backpack and become burdens that weigh you down, hunch you over, and press on you until your demeanor became calloused and unyielding to joy?
Or perhaps, would you allow the Great Spiritual guides of this worldly walk to work their alchemy and turn each of those burdensome experiences into resources you store in your pack until you need them again?
I had a dear friend who once brought this idea to my awareness. At the time, I was too immature in my spiritual journey and too raw with grief to understand what he meant by this concept. Looking back, now years later, I have seen that this very idea has come into fruition and has changed me forever.
There trauma of watching a parent struggle to survive and finally die of cancer was something I had marked down as a heavy burden I would lug it along with me all my days. Those memories would weight me down and remind me over and over just how short and pitiful life really is. At least, this is what I decided in the moments that my Dad was dying in front of me.
Today, I am grateful to report that this decision did not stick. I believe too mightily in a God whose daily provision and presence is persistent with loving transformation. I see now that the painful process of a parent's death has become a great and powerful resource in my backpack of life. Not only has it become a tool that helps me day to day but it is one that I can offer to others. The gift of sharing these lessons painfully learned, chips away the bulk of that burdensome weight. Each similar experience in my backpack of life that seemed like it would forever be a millstone around my neck, has become another weightless tool on hand for the improvement of living as I make this pilgrimage of growth.
What resources are in your backpack of life?