Although plenty of us carry around emotional and sexual baggage, some of us have baggage that is especially heavy.
Sometimes our own sins are so big that they weigh us down.
Do you carry any of these things around with you?
- An emotional or physical affair since your marriage
- Sexual chatting or web-camming with online strangers
- A sexual affair that crossed more boundaries than just being outside of marriage—such as a threesome, a relationship with another woman, or an affair with a married man
- An abortion
- Being physically or emotionally abusive
- Deception about who fathered your child
- A long-held secret or long-told deception about your sexual history
- A habit of masturbating to porn while refusing to have sex with your husband
- Sex work
- Years of trying to hurt your husband as punishment for something he did long ago
My own past shows up on that list. It haunted me for many years and affected our marriage, even after I told Big Guy.
When we carry baggage loaded with heavy sin, it can be hard to accept God’s forgiveness.
The Christian women I saw always seemed to be good, collected, happy, and confident in their faith. But I made some assumptions about them. I thought they’d had a clean and straight path to where they were. I questioned whether they could accept a woman who’d committed a big sin and whose faith journey had gone so off-track.
I wanted to belong, but I was sure that if they knew the real me and the things I’d done, I would be rejected. So I kept quiet, being part of things but never truly belonging.
Frequently I sat in church, letting the words float over me because I thought they were out of my reach. I wanted so much for the words to be true, but I let my own baggage be bigger than God’s capacity for love.
God loves sinners. But not me. My sin rendered me completely unlovable.
You are forgiven. Maybe I’m forgiven for what I did this week, but I will never be forgiven for my big sin in the past.
Jesus loves you. He loves me only in a collective sense. He loves me because I’m part of the human race, but he doesn’t love me specifically. How could he?
I once was lost but now am found. I am still lost and always will be. Oh, how I wish I were found.
God’s grace is for all. Except me.
I felt like a fraud. Who was I to say “and lead us not into temptation” when I’d already shown that I practically invited temptation into my own life? How could I partake of communion when I believed that while Jesus had allowed his body to be broken and his blood shed, he hadn’t done so for me?
I wanted to feel like I belonged—to my congregation, to my husband, and most of all to God.
I knew that I never truly would.
My marriage suffered right along with me. Unable to trust that God loved me, I couldn’t trust that my husband did, either.
My heavy baggage became a source of self-sabotage, too. Although I never thought I was actually wrong in how I approached the sexual aspect of our relationship, I did recognize that we had a problem. I often considered doing something about it—but I saw my own sin as so bad that I was undeserving of happiness in marriage.
Much of my heart pain was connected to my sin. I couldn’t even deal with hurt within my marriage without touching my sin-pain. I already thought I didn’t deserve for things to be better; I also didn’t know how to deal with things in our marriage without exposing all the other stuff.
My friends, I know that some of you have struggled to read this post. You, too, want to belong, but your own heavy baggage weighs you down. Working on your marriage is an uphill battle; you not only have to make dramatic changes, you have to deal with your own heavy sin that gets in the way.
A couple years ago I wrote about the moment when I finally saw God’s love as something for me:
I see an image of that inner self, standing uncertainly in her Flashdance-style ripped t-shirt and jeans, wondering who will ever love her. And I know she is me. I see God in front of me. He says, “Come here, child.” I unzip that inner self I have and realize that it is just a skin, an outer shell. Inside that skin is someone else, a woman who is shining and is larger than the skin she just stepped out of. I shed the skin of that old self, leaving it discarded on the ground. I take a step forward. Light is exploding out of me as I reach toward the even brighter light in front of me. And I climb into God’s lap and feel His arms around me, welcoming me home.
The parable of the prodigal son teaches us so much about God’s heart for us.
After years of wandering aimlessly, rejecting the spiritual and marital joys he’d given to me, I had finally begun to work through the issues that had led me so far astray.
God saw me off in the distance. He saw my sin, my yearning, and all my pain.
He watched. He waited. He had a heavy heart as I hurt two of his beloved children in our marriage (my husband and myself).
He was still waiting for me when I began to gather myself together to try to find my way back home to him.
I imagine the sheer joy in God’s heart as he saw me at the end of the road on the final stretch of my journey home.
She is back! I have missed her so much. Part of my heart has come back to me. My heart feels joyful wholeness because she is back home with me where she belongs. She is mine, and I am hers.
My heart’s deepest longing was to belong to God. That was God’s deepest longing for me, too.
No wonder he ran out to meet me, exuberant at my return and wanting to hold me in his arms.
He could have waited for me to make it all the way to him. He could have made me walk that last stretch on my own, just to prove to me that I truly wanted to be there and was fully his.
He could have, but he didn’t. Instead, he ran out to embrace me, so overcome with joy that he wanted to be with me as I took my final steps back with him.
I barreled myself into God’s waiting arms while he held me and welcomed me back to Him.
Amazing, amazing grace, indeed.
Sisters, I know the weight of heavy sin-baggage. I know the yearning to belong and to feel whole, as I know the feeling that these things are only for others and not for you. I know that working on your marriage can be complicated by the weight of your baggage. I know how overwhelming it can be. I know how lonely it can feel.
Just set your baggage down for a moment and take a deep breath.
Because here’s what else I know:
You are not alone.
You are forgiven.
You are so, so loved.
You are a beloved daughter of our grace-giving God.
Even if your baggage is weighed down heavily by big sin, you are still God’s beloved child.
Accepting his love does not erase the consequences of your sin. You may have hurt others in your actions. You may always have some of those consequences with you. But when you accept what God has given you, facing those consequences can be less painful. God can use even your big sin for his great purposes.
A prodigal son demanded what he thought he was entitled to from his father. He threw it all away in sinful practice, just as you and I have done. And then he came home, with no expectation of welcome.
You may have no expectation of welcome, either. I know I didn’t. But when I set down my baggage and began to take my steps toward God, God celebrated and was glad.
Do you know that God is throwing a party for you, too?
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