Carrying baggage is something we all do. We have bags filled with love, with trauma, with rules and instruction, discipline and punishment, and a lot of expectations. These bags make up who we are, where we came from and where we want to go. As we walk through adulthood, it is our job to decide what we hold on to and what we let go.

Carrying Too Much

Several years ago I went on my first trip alone. I was headed cross-country, from the southern side to the northern. I had only ever flown once before, so this was quite an adventure for me. Having little understanding of airports, I packed my carry on duffel bag as full as I could and headed out. 

Our local airport is tiny, I learned. One terminal, one long hall way and my gate sat nicely within a few feet of security. I was in and waiting within minutes of arriving. The problem began with the first layover— Chicago. As I deplaned and began walking toward my next gate, I realized this place was a lot more than what I was expecting. And suddenly I understood why everyone else had spent a little extra on those suitcases with the swivel wheels. 

By the time I reached my next gate, my shoulders were killing me. I really regretted my choice of bags! But what can you do? I finally reached my destination to find more walking, a train ride across town, another walk through a giant mall, and a wait of a couple hours for my ride. 

Once I got to my destination, I was exhausted. I enjoyed my weekend but found the issue of repacking to be a trial. Remember that giant mall and the wait for the ride. Yeah, I bought some stuff. And my already full duffel wasn’t giving much as far as room goes. I had to decide what needed to be left behind or layered on my person. Once everything was figured out and shoved in, I started the adventure back to the airport and home. 

Needless to say, I have never carried a duffel bag on a trip through the airport again! 

Extra Weight

When we step into a new phase of life, carrying all the baggage from our past can get really heavy. It can become such a burden that we drag ourselves down or hold ourselves back with all the extra weight. We have to then decide to either sit in the mess of bags, barely making progress as we drag along the past, or leave some things behind. 

For many years I have carried burdens from others, expectations I didn’t want. They were given through hateful words and actions, all the while I was told to let it go. This ‘letting go’ is different than leaving behind the baggage. This was an expectation to get over it, letting it happen again and again. 

As I said, I carried these words for years, until recently. With what I would describe as a Spiritual experience, I felt those burdens melt away. Nothing changed outside of me, but everything changed inside. The people around me that had told me to let it go were still in my life. In fact, when I told one of them I was actually letting go, it upset them. But it was such a lifting, I couldn’t imagine picking it all back up again. It was a deep decision, not to get over it, but to let go of the burden I was carrying, to stop letting the hurt change who I was. 

Letting Go

My journey of letting go of my baggage began several years ago while reading the book Unclaimed Baggage by Don & Jan Frank. This was focused on baggage in marriage and may not be the best fit for everyone, but it was life changing for my husband and I. 


Sometimes we don’t even realize we are carrying anything along with us until it’s causing major problems in our life. Many times, we are so busy pointing the finger at someone else we can’t see the hurt we are causing to ourselves or to others.

One excuse for holding on to something is a fear of offending the person that handed you the burden. As I have grown and changed in adulthood, I have heard from others that “I do things different.” This isn’t said with kindness or awe. It was said with disdain and offense. I had to let that go. I had to recognize that it wasn’t an insult when I did something different. It was me allowing myself to do what was best for me. 

Don’t let the baggage of your past or the burdens of others weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. Find what is worth keeping, put it in a rolling suitcase and leave the rest behind you. It will lift your shoulders more than you can imagine.