For Christmas a few years ago, I received a wonderful hobo purse as a gift. You may be familiar with them – large bags, flung over shoulders, expansive enough to hold wallet, electronics, makeup, and more.
Now, I really like this purse. I organized the inside with one of those purse organizers….I was really flying high. Never was without something. Always had everything with me.
One day last week, I reached up and grabbed my neck, by the shoulder. It was hurting, and I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, I tracked the problem: my purse was weighing me down. The “everything purse” was carrying a load, and it was having a negative effect on my neck, shoulders and back.
What could I do but open up the purse and start to purge? Ever had to do that? I started with the obvious – the coins – and pulled them out, placing them in the coin holding pot in our kitchen. (We use those Coinstar coin counters at the grocery store – love them!) Then I worked on the rest of my wallet, making sure I wasn’t holding on to unnecessary receipts, business cards, etc.
Then it got a little more difficult. I quietly reached for my key chain, and knew I had some work to do. This particular key chain was a gift from my daughter, many years ago. At one time, it held two drop charms – one of a girl, one of a boy, each named after our daughter and son. And the drop charms were connected to a big round key ring.
It’s not just that the key ring itself held meaning. What was on the chain was equally revealing. For example, I was still carrying around a key or two from an old office where I worked, on a difficult project. Why would I want to look at that every day, to remember a difficult time? Another example: I still carried around the key to a file cabinet from a location where I worked over 10 years ago; I don’t even know where that file cabinet is now. But I can tell you what was in that file cabinet – legal papers. As in litigation (which is sometimes necessary in business). Why would I choose to look at a key that reminded me of litigation and fighting and bickering?
So I did what I should have done a long time ago. I tossed the stuff I didn’t need to hold onto anymore. I lightened my load. And within a day or two, my neck did feel better.
Matthew 11:28 shares with us the words of Jesus, who asks us to “come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” As we begin a season of Lent, and as many of us attend Ash Wednesday services today, I pray that you are able to lay your burdens down at the feet of Christ, who provides the forgiveness and the peace we crave.
Consider attending some Lenten services in your neighborhood. At our church (Christ UMC in Plano, Texas), you will find us in the sanctuary every Wednesday night at 7, and in the chapel at 730, as we share in spiritual formation activities that will help us lighten our load and give all to God.
If you visit, come find me. I’ll be the one with the hobo bag that’s not sagging.