Sometimes the Most Productive Thing You Can Do is Deal With Your Past

More Productive You: A Guide To Living Well | Kristy's Cottage blog

Welcome to our fourth “chapter” in our More Productive You: A Guide To Living Well series.

Did you catch the three “laws of productivity” posts?  If not, you can read up on this series right here.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve laid some important ground work.

Today, we’re going to wrap up the last of our “foundation” posts.

But before we move forward- and I can’t wait to tackle “the productive woman’s habits” posts!- it’s important that we do a little more internal work.

—–> Do you know what’s even more important than really great habits?

A really clear heart and mind. 

If you and I are going to live productive, healthy lives, then we have to take the time to unpack our baggage. 

Why?

Because sometimes the most productive thing you can do is deal with your past. 

 Sometimes the Most Productive Thing You Can Do is Deal With Your Past | Kristy's Cottage blog: More Productive You

Maybe you’re sitting there thinking to yourself,

But I don’t have any baggage.  I don’t have a past. What are you talking about?

Actually, we all have baggage.

I believe everyone has baggage of some kind.

How do I know that?

Because we are broken.

We live in a fallen world.

Things happen to us, people disappoint us, we make mistakes and sometimes life hurts. 

This isn’t always popular message inside the church world, but it’s true:

We are all a little broken on the inside.

Owning that is the first step on this journey of productivity and health. 

(Read more of my story on brokenness right here.)

Just maybe you’re sitting there thinking, 

Yeah, I know I have baggage.  You don’t have to tell me… I carry the load every day, and it’s killing me.  But I don’t even know where to start in laying it down.

In my own experience, this baggage isn’t really something you can just “lay down.” 

As if it were merely a heavy suite case, and we can choose to carry it or not.

Emotional baggage comes in many forms, and it can feel organic.  

That is, it seems to be part of who we are… until we identify and unpack it: 

  • fears
  • rejections
  • disappoints
  • insecurities
  • patterns
  • false concepts or beliefs about God
  • voices from our past that whisper lies about who we are
  • mistakes we have never forgiven ourselves for making

We have to unpack this baggage.

Piece, by piece.

We have to own that life has not always handed us what is true, and good, and lovely.

We must discard what is unhealthy, or damaging, or against the truth of who God is.

And, piece by piece, we live more freely.

More at peace.

More focused and productive.

What if I don’t want to go there?

Some parts of our lives are so unpleasant that we don’t really want to “go there.” 

It’s easier to just close the door and move on.

These places we don’t want to revisit can be anything from

  • a deep hurt or loss,
  • disappointments,
  • or even past sins
  • or abuse.

The issue isn’t how “big” or “little” our baggage is.

The issue is recognizing that it is there, and that it will continue to affect our lives until we find the courage to “go there.”

A few years ago, the importance of dealing with our baggage really hit home for me. 

That year, our family had an usually busy season, and in the space of a few months the seven of us- my husband, myself and our five kids- made several road trips.

Sometimes the Most Productive Thing You Can Do is Deal With Your Past | KristysCottage.com

Now, I’m not a great traveler.

I hate packing, and unpacking falls even lower on the list of things that I enjoy!

After I had spent several days unpacking, washing dirty laundry, and getting our home back in order after yet another trip, a crazy thought struck me-

What would happen if I never unpacked anything after a road trip? 

What if I always stuffed our loaded suite cases into a closet, and just kept going- without ever dealing with the content in those bags?

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After just a few road trips, our home would be bursting with luggage and dirty laundry.

It would stink.

It would be impossible to keep clean.

And we’d eventually run out of space in our closets, because every last inch would be taken up with bags of dirty laundry, shoes, and who-knows-what-else.

As much as I dislike the process of unpacking after a trip, I find the consequences of not unpacking even less desirable.

Why dealing with the past is actually productive.

I’m not a woman who likes to spend a lot of energy on anything I feel is less-than-productive.

If an activity, or even a relationship, feels like a waste of time, I’m ready to move on.

Unfortunately, there are parts of our lives that we can’t simply stuff in a closet just so we can “move on.”

Remember the analogy of the luggage?

People or circumstances in our lives can leave us with “dirty laundry” to deal with.

After we’ve been around for a while, our baggage can start to pile up… and even take over the emotional space in our lives.

Sometimes the Most Productive Thing You Can Do is Deal With Your Past | KristysCottage.com

Whether we like it or not- and whether we deserve it or not- sometimes life unloads “junk” right on top of us: 

  • rejection or hurt from close relationships
  • brokenness of trust
  • loss, grief, and deep emotional pain
  • disillusionment about God, and who He is in our lives
  • unhealthy patterns or beliefs from childhood
  • sins that were committed against us
  • sins that we committed, or mistakes we made
  • guilt
  • depression
  • bitterness

That’s why I believe we all have a past, and that we all have baggage.

Because we live in a broken world; brokenness is a part of humanity.

I’m a church kid who was homeschooled and raised in a pastor’s home… but I am broken, just like everyone else on this planet.

For years, I kept my baggage locked away in a closet.

No one could see the “dirty laundry” in my life.

I couldn’t even see it, because I refused to look.

Eventually, I ran out of emotional space.

Living a productive life became a struggle, because I kept tripping over all the emotional junk.

Anger, bitterness, guilt, anxiety… those aren’t the kinds of emotional companions I would ever choose! 

And yet I did for years, because I didn’t really know how to “go there” and deal with my baggage.

It was in this broken place that I begin to truly learn of the love and grace of my Heavenly Father.

I realized- probably for the first time in my life– that I needed grace.

Jesus gently began to pull that long-forgotten baggage out of the corners of my life and, piece by piece, He helped me get rid of

  • anger
  • bitterness
  • insecurity
  • guilt
  • pride

It’s true: sometimes I still find a stash of my old emotional junk, and I have to ask the Lord to help me deal with it, piece by piece.

The important thing is that I’m no longer trying to do life around piles of emotional clutter.

I don’t think God intends for any woman to live like that!

Christ made provision for our emotional healing and health through His blood and His Word, but we have to choose to live into that provision.

There is such peace and freedom in allowing the Holy Spirit to search out, cleanse, and heal, the innermost corners of our hearts.

It’s worth it- more than worth it– to find the courage to “go there.”

Sometimes it means you have to slow down long enough to start unpacking.

It can also mean that you might need to seek out someone to help you with the process.

It always means that you will feel vulnerable- maybe even deeply humbled. 

But it is always productive to deal with your past. 

Because, sweet friend, we were not designed by God to carry the load of guilt, depression, anxiety, fear or feelings of never being “good enough.”

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None of these are the “yoke” that Jesus would ask any of us to carry.

Those crippling fears,

the anxiety that stops us in our tracks,

the overwhelming need to control everyone and everything in our life,

the depression or feelings of never being good enough…

those are all symptoms of baggage that we have never owned or unpacked.

We may choose to not deal with it, but eventually it will deal with us- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As I bring this “chapter” to a close, and prepare to turn a corner in this series, let me share a few last thoughts with you:

1. You cannot unpack anyone else’s baggage.

If part of your baggage comes from someone in your life who disappointed, hurt, or caused you pain, please do not try to “fix” them.

That is not part of your journey.

God will give you grace to deal with your own issues, and to forgive others for being imperfect.  But He will never ask you to “fix” someone else (that’s His job).

2. You must find the courage to accept that you are not perfect.

This is always hard for me.

I’m a chronic over-achiever, and there’s a lot of pride that comes with that package.

I often cling to the Scripture,

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6

Allow God to pour His grace into the wounded places- including the wounded pride that comes with brokenness.

3. Health, not perfection, is the goal.

Sometimes the raw edges of life overwhelm my idealistic heart.

When I find myself striving- yet again– for that illusive goal of perfection, I have to remind myself that God never promises us perfection in this life.

He does offer provision for

  • healing (Psalm 147:3),
  • abundant grace (II Corinthians 12:9),
  • joy (John 15:11)
  • and peace (John 14:27).

Those gifts are only found in a life that has been surrendered to Him, and then in learning of the meek and lowly Christ (Matthew 16:28-30).

We are on a journey. 

As we navigate the necessary steps of living life as healthy and productive Christian women, we have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word as our guides.

Don’t try to travel your journey alone!

We need mentors.

We need community.

And, remember sweet friend, other women need you too.

The emotional health that you cultivate in your own life will stimulate health and growth in the lives of those you love and touch. 

If you found this post helpful for where you’re at in life right now, I hope you’ll check out the following resources:

Kristy's Top Resources for Cultivating Emotional Health, Identity & Purpose as a Christian Woman | KristysCottage.com

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Next Monday, we’ll turn a corner and begin exploring the habits of a productive woman.

Here’s to living well- 

xoxo,

Kristy

7 Surprising Habits of Productive Women | by Kristy Howard

Read the previous chapters of More Productive You.

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