Years ago, I was part of a traveling ministry team; one night we showed up at a meeting where they were having an impromptu wedding. The bride was a pretty rough character, the mother in law was very religious and harsh, and the bridegroom was the kind of guy who was obviously used to being beaten up by overbearing women. But this isn’t their story — this is the story of the maid of honor who had to deal with the three of them.
I saw her in the corner after services. The bride had made a vicious comment during the round table discussion — referring to her as a “4 time loser” in a shockingly casual manner. I walked over and she immediately treated me as her superior, which was warning sign #1. She also wouldn’t look me in the eye, which was warning sign #2. I sat next to her and took her hand and immediately had a vision of her walking with a suitcase. The suitcase wasn’t in her hand, it was trailing behind her. She was dragging it by a filthy long scarf or rag, one end in her hand, the other end snagged in the zipper. I realized that this horrid suitcase was her baggage – she was trying her best to distance herself from it. She had packed it up and was desperately trying to get rid of it, but others in her life were keeping her attached to it with their own filthy rags — their self-righteous words.
I looked into her life; I saw the violation and the abuse. I saw a woman struggling to keep her head above water and the “friends” who kept shoving her back down. Perhaps, in their minds, dunking her was some sort of twisted attempt at baptism, when it was actually little more than attempted murder. They were killing her with reminders. They wanted to remind her of where she came from so that she wouldn’t go back, but in reality they were forcing her to live inside the shame of not only her past sins, but the horrible crimes against her that they inevitably gave memory to.
I sat with her for quite a while, helping her to let go of their filthy rags – the ones which they said belonged to her. I told her something from the heart of God that I have never forgotten.
“You packed that baggage in order to get rid of it; the next time they mention it, tell them they are more than welcome to it, because it doesn’t belong to you any more. You don’t want it, you don’t need it — if it means so much to them, just give it to them. Tell them to carry it around, because you are done with it.”
I have no idea what happened to her. I pray she found healing, I pray that she found new companions. Her past was horrible beyond telling, and we should weep when we even think of such precious people. We should lift them up, help them pack up that baggage as they find it and help them dump it. We shouldn’t, through our impatience and contempt, keep bringing back the suitcase. We shouldn’t open it back up. We shouldn’t take out their dirty laundry and shove it in their faces — or put it out there for the world to see when they are diligently struggling to move in the right direction.
We wouldn’t like it if someone did it to us. We wouldn’t respond positively to it. It would not bring life. It would break the whole of Scriptures.