For some people, air travel is old hat. For others, it is a periodic and somewhat foreign process. Whatever the case, you know the drill.
Pack your bags.
Drive yourself to the airport or connect with Mr. or Ms. Uber and hopefully arrive on time and in one piece.
Park your car or drop off the rental and subsequently catch the complimentary shuttle to terminal X, Y, or Z.
Once inside the aviation cathedral, the fun awaits. You get to navigate the mine field called TSA security.
Once you have been screened (and probed!) you grab a snack, proceed to your gate, wait for the boarding process to begin, and finally take your seat on the plane.
With any luck, the plane actually takes off on time unless it is parked like a beached whale (for what seems like hours) on the runway while time delays play havoc with your patience levels not to mention the ongoing uncertainty of whether you will miss your connecting flight.
You think, “Smile, you’re on candid camera” while inside you are an exhausted and perhaps irritated mess.
Your flight eventually takes off and the complimentary snack service begins as the flying metal tube makes its way across the landscape 35,000 feet above Mother Earth.
Once you arrive at your destination, baggage claim is the final hurdle to bring your trip to a conclusion, at least as far as the airport is concerned.
You are inwardly praying your underwear is not in another time zone!
This year has been unusual for Jackie and me. We typically fall into the “intermittent traveler” category.
However, this year has been out of the norm for us as we have flown the friendly skies more than ever.
In February we went on a mission trip and traveled to Israel on an adventure of a lifetime.
In April, I flew to North Carolina to join Jackie in welcoming a new member of our family, our newly adopted granddaughter.
This summer we also made a trip “out west” to visit our oldest daughter and her family in California.
To me, walking toward and following the signs which say “Baggage Claim” shouts “I’ve arrived”. It also signals the beginning of the adventure for which I came.
On several of my trips this year, the treks to “Baggage Claim” left me to address the thoughts tumbling around in my mind. I was not going off the deep end, nor did I hear any audible voices.
However, over the years I have come to discern the moments when I hear God’s voice and His whispers in my ear. I know when He is trying to get my attention. Suffice it to say, He did get my attention.
In retrospect, the questions could be distilled along these lines.
“What baggage will you be claiming and what baggage should you leave behind?”
Interesting thoughts. On the surface, the answer seemed simple.
I want the baggage that is mine. I don’t want the baggage that is not mine.
If the tag does not say, “Bruce R. Cross”, it should remain on the conveyor belt. Otherwise I should grab the fabric rectangle on wheels, usher it off the merry-go-round, and make my way toward the exit doors.
I was asked to go deeper, to ponder the question, and to truly think about the answer.
In theory I need the stuff in my bag – the toiletries, the pants, shirts, socks, and yes, the underwear.
I do not need the stuff in a bag which is not mine, whatever it contains. That which is not mine needs to remain.
A milestone birthday is on the horizon for me later this year which has triggered much contemplation. I have not talked much about it on the outside, but there has been plenty of dialogue on the inside.
At times the thoughts have been relentless in their pursuit.
- “You are nowhere near where you thought you would be at this stage of the game.”
- “You should have done this instead of that as “that” would have altered the equation.”
- “Are you really making a difference?”
- “What is my purpose?”
- “Will it ever change?”
The above list is a sampling of many more thoughts, some which go much deeper. It is natural to take stock of things and make assessments.
It is not healthy to own stuff which weighs one down.
At times I have dwelt on the glass half empty vs. focusing on the glass half full.
We all go through moments where life throws curves at us or places obstacles in our way. It’s what we do with these moments that can either have us toting along excess baggage or taking what we legitimately own and going on our merry way.
At times, the excess baggage with which I wrestle has made me feel stuck. I have become so consumed with the elephant in the room that I fail to see or recognize the moments where I should elicit gratitude or feel content.
I know better not to dwell on the baggage which weighs me down. I have found my way around such things time and time again.
However, there are times which catch me off guard and unprepared and the cycle of carrying the extra baggage seems unavoidable.
Like me, if you find yourself in a place where the baggage carousel is dumping unwanted cargo toward you, consider this:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Adjusting our thoughts, even in the slightest manner, can make all the difference in whether we carry excess baggage or not.
For you, what will it be baggage claim or not?
Only you can determine the answer to the question. My suggestion is to focus your thoughts on those things which help you step forward and leave the thoughts behind which weigh you down.
There’s no sense in claiming baggage which is not your own.