When I was a teenager, my father regularly took my brother and I hunting in the fall. My brother was really into it. I, on the other hand, was in it for the trip. We even had a best friend that tagged along with us on occasion. One time when we were all together, my dad took a picture to capture the memory. In the picture, the most noticeable thing was the large blue tarp tied between several trees to keep rain from falling on us. Underneath the tarp, he had a small setup in which he made himself coffee. The flame came from one of those small cans with flammable contents. A plus for us, was that he also brought something to cook chicken noodle soup in. Later in the day, we also had sandwiches and snacks. Add to all that, I asked him to bring a gallon of water to make sure we never ran out.
So there my dad was, weighed down like a pack mule on a distant voyage. After “base camp” was painstakingly set up, it looked like a sporting goods store in the middle of the forest. I know he did it out of love for his boys though. I remember when another friend of the family joined us. At the time, he was the youth pastor at my church. When our friend saw the backpack my dad had packed, he asked my dad a question. Are you really going to carry all that?
It was a funny memory I’ve held on to ever since. It can also be a fascinating question when reflected upon. When visually seeing someone carry a large backpack filled to the brim, we see it as a tremendous burden to carry on their back. But what about some of the burdens carried around that no one sees? Since they are not seen, most often these loads are ignored. Before realizing it, they can be carried for years.
Think about the types of burdens carried. Parents make sure their children have enough food to eat and other basic necessities. These are a burden of duty, fulfilling an obligation for bringing life into this world. However, there are other burdens, not born out of duty but of our own making. Some things we choose to carry on our backs that we have no business carrying. Rather than letting go, we hold tightly to these burdens as if they brought us a reward.
The past, for example, is one of the biggest burdens held on to. For some, they can’t get past what someone did to them and are unable to forgive them. For others, it is something they did to themselves, and they are unwilling to forgive themselves. The point of fascination lies in what we make ourselves carry around, even without realizing it. Others tell us to let go. We may know the right thing to do is let go, yet we cling to the wrong stuff anyway. Think hard about the unnecessary burdens you may be carrying around in life and answer a question. Are you really going to carry all that?