What’s important is not necessarily what we keep. Sometimes, what we hold onto prevents us from being free-free to be who we were made to be and free to do what we are called to do- rely on God.
As a child I understood little. I mostly sensed things. I’m told we moved seven times between the time I was 2 and 6. I don’t remember this. I didn’t understand things, most children don’t. They only sense things- joy, hunger, anger, fear, discomfort, frustration-feelings which emerge from the senses. Feelings are the most primitive instincts we have. If we see a balloon lifting blissfully into the sky, we experience joy. Upon hearing a dog bark as it fast approaches, fear fills us. We are born with the ability to use our 5 senses to understand our world and to teach us how to behave. At a tender age, senses are the law in mortal bodies, they instruct, govern and lead us. as a child, I didn’t understand why we were moving, or where we were going, or how we were getting from place to place I only knew one thing: I didn’t want to be left behind.
For my sisters and I, there was little stability in our early years. We all dealt with it differently. I carried around a basket. A basket small enough to fit under one 4 year old arm. This basket became a stable home for my most important possessions. First and foremost my beloved-“Nigh Nigh”- A green, checkered blanket, with ‘Winnie the Pooh’ stitched in the center.
In the movie Pursuit of Happiness, there is one scene when Will Smith and his son are crossing the street in a hurry to secure a good spot in the “shelter” line. In the rush, the boy drops his little superhero doll -leaving it behind. I teared up watching it. It was his only toy, his only connection to innocence and to a world that should be full of play and toys, giggles and safety. But for many kids they don’t know that world. There are 7000 orphans in the United States of America. Orphans, typically, are children who have little to no security or stability. They have lost their childhood to the sins of the adults who bore them. They have left behind everything frisky and fun. It is a great sorrow to lose even one precious item such as a doll or a blanket that brings a shred of permanence.
Jesus said, the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. There are at least 7000 who need a message of security, hope and provision. Bring no purse, he says, for what can be carried that can deliver from fear of the unknown?
I was thankfully not an orphan, but I still had a basket. My basket carried a plastic box of crayons, a small, blue, dollhouse playpen and some little babies that fit inside– nothing of worldly value, only trivial treasures with childish significance.
I didn’t know what was happening. Why it was happening or when it would happen, I had no control over things like divorce and step families. Children observe things adults don’t, such as, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, even energy can be absorbed by a child. But typically children cannot understand what it all means. Children cannot interpret accurately the details of a situation. What does it mean to ‘live somewhere, or leave secretly, or to drink too much’? This is a child’s world, their unspoken petition– show me how to feel and what to do, because I don’t understand your words, idioms, language, conversations, sarcasm, I cannot distinguish truth from false, unless I sense it. A child’s experience is limited by their sensations. So they rely on inconsequential things to bring them comfort, things they can smell, or touch, cuddle and hold – things that in some small way give them what they need to endure.
Childhood is the best soil in life. During the childhood years many seeds are planted, good bad and ugly. The seeds planted in childhood have the deepest roots later in life, they become the largest trees and the best fruit producers, good bad or ugly.
I don’t carry around a basket full of toys and a security blanket today. I have different kinds of baskets that were forged in childhood soils, produced from seeds which yield in me an urge to carry a basket of another sort.
The very same voices, expression and tones which made me afraid as a child still have the ability and power to make me afraid. It’s my mother’s voice that brings me back. It is the same feeling of fear, confusion, being rushed, being uncertain. My mother just needs to wave that magic wand of mysterious words-open ended thoughts-or vague anxiety, and I am three again. I freeze. It’s very real to me-suddenly, I cannot think, and I am desperately affected, but inner conflict ensues. I feel strong panic. Worry suddenly plagues me. It feels like I need to rush, like something is wrong, “don’t leave me behind, don’t leave me alone. I don’t know anything, I’m afraid, something bad might happen and I can’t stop it or change it. I sense fear and feel it around me like an old sweater or a familiar hand dragging me around.” Fear makes me cling to mommy because that served me well at three years old.
The roots of survival go deep. When I am afraid I want to gather my things and go, I know it’s the seed which was planted very long ago. When I don’t understand, I am taken back to depend on senses and feelings. She might say something like, “Things are really bad, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I hope you’re ready.” These ambiguous words create fear.
If, as we grow, we continue to rely on our senses to interpret the world, we become disoriented and sensual. In order to grow in fine fettle we must let go of the governing authority of our sensations, learn to trust our logic, our thinking abilities, our intellect and the truth of God’s word. Our perceptions don’t have to be crucified, but they can be a supporting actor, instead of the voice of reason.
I must let go of the fear of poverty and abandonment. At one time mom’s voice was the only safe and stable thing I knew. But I am grown now and that is no longer true. She is one of many voices which I can trust, including my own. And I don’t have to be an extended, emotional response of her decisions and views.
The truth is, I still have the urge to pack a bag or a suitcase and put my most important things in it, just in case we have to leave suddenly. Today I would pack different items of course , my bible, my journal, pens, my glasses, band aids, water, food, a jacket and all those things times 3 for my family. The things I deem necessary for life and living. But I’m fighting it.
I need to remember ‘my basket’ is symbolic of fear and sensuality. I would do better to gather eternal things. I need to fill my basket with: truth. Love, faithfulness, peace, patience, kindness, hope and repentance. These are the things that that fill me. These will bring great security, identity and life- I become the basket for everything pertaining to life, courage, understanding and wisdom; things that will get me through, no matter what lies ahead, because the real question is “will I have what I need”. And my father, who never changes, answers that question. He whispers to my heart, “let go of what isn’t enough, so that you can be filled with the One who is more than you will ever need.”
He whispers to my heart, “let go of what isn’t enough, so that you can be filled with the One who is more than you will ever need.”
I find comfort when I read, that Jesus sent out his disciples to preach, to heal and to cast out demons. He told them,
“Take no purse, no shoes, and don’t even take two coats.”
I believe the Lord wants those who know him and do his work, to trust in him to provide for their needs. He sent his people out to do really major things knowing that none of what they were doing was earthly enough to rely on earthly treasures. Their survival didn’t depend on something that could fit into a bag, it depended on who would remain in their hearts.
My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
And when God’s people need physical provisions he provides those also. The Israelite’s wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, their clothes did not wear out, their sandals did not wear fail, their bread did not decrease nor did their water dry up…for 40 years- without a stop and shop or a local CSA. God is able to provide. He made the very first seed, the very first tree and every one after that, he invented food and brought it forth. If He can feed Elijah by commanding ravens to bring him food during a famine, if he can rain bread from the heavens, bring water from a rock, oil from an empty vessel and dough from a barren bowl. If He can turn water into wine, and multiply fish to feed thousands, He can provide for our physical needs, this actually isn’t even a big deal for our Father.
When Jesus was visiting Mary and Martha in their home, Martha was running around making preparations – being a good host no doubt. She was serving, cooking and readying herself. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening and learning. Martha asked the Lord to, ‘make her sister help’. Jesus’ response was “there is only one thing which is necessary” – seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.