Looking for Happiness at the Next Stop?

By Stephanie Pletka

I’m a destination addict. I love to experience adventure. The adrenal rush of new places, people, cultures, and ideas excites me. And boy, do I love change. Well at least the good kind. For three years we educated our four kids while we worked and traveled. Planes, trains, and Airbnbs, in 45 states and 9 countries. It had its ups and downs, but was fun and exhilarating. Every coffee shop, park bench, and Co-share facility became our temporary office. All we needed was a laptop and wifi, and we could submit projects and presentations five days a week.

Along the way, we lost – then found – our children on the Golden Gate Bridge, ran out of gas somewhere in South Dakota, took Spanish lessons in Barcelona (though no one can remember anything more than Hola!), and rode Segways through Europe (nearly losing one in a canal). We drove through Manhattan in a 36-ft. motor home during rush hour (I do not recommend this) and found out the hard way that propane tanks are not allowed in the Holland Tunnel. I bet we hold the record for the most horns blown in a 10-minute period while we made an 18-point turnaround.

Guess what? Despite all the adventure, change, and new destinations, we still had to pay bills, do laundry, take baths, cut our hair and fuel the car. Our family laughed, cried, . . . and fought. Remember the Holland Tunnel? When you think you’re going to die, all sorts of crazy flies out of your mouth. I was praying to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, all the while hollering at my husband and threatening the kids to quit talking or this would surely be their last day.

Even though we loved our nomadic lifestyle, we still got mad at each other and still struggled with bouts of insecurity. Though we had strict rules for packing light, it became obvious that we each had brought along our usual heavy load of emotional baggage.

It’s tempting to think that traveling for pleasure or making a move across the country will clean the slate and rid us of the circumstances that hold us down. A new environment will save us, free us, relieve us from the pain, the grief, the suffering, the heartache we try to elude. Nope. You’re just giving those problems a new view. Giving them a new place to lay their weary head.

Baggage shows up as lies we tell ourselves:

  1. I don’t have what it takes to make it.
  2. If I can start a new job (move to a new state, find a new guy) I’ll be happy.
  3. I’ll enjoy life when we have more money.
  4. Others have it together more than I do.
  5. I’ll wait until my circumstances are perfect.
  6. Others don’t struggle in their marriage like I do.

Until our contentment meter is repaired, until the lies we tell ourselves are resolved, we will remain off kilter, no matter the new city, partner or job.

It’s time to let go of the labels and lies we tell ourselves. It’s time to drop the luggage and walk a lighter path. It’s time to live in the freedom God created for us. He’s a God of redemption and grace. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

As Susan Miller, author of After the Boxes are Unpacked says: “You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back.”

You can’t move forward if you’re always carrying luggage not meant for you to bear.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, we are not overwhelmed, devoured or monopolized. For His mercies never fail. They are new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 I love how God invests in our spirit. He cares about our emotional psyche. He created us to soar, to succeed.

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on such things. Philippians 4:8 He didn’t say to focus on whether your butt is too big or your house is too dirty. Stop. He said to focus on anything praiseworthy.

So how do we free ourselves of the lies? Read the Word.

The Word that goes out from My mouth, will not return to Me empty. But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Girl, God is for you and not against you. His Word does not go out and come back void. No ma’am. It goes out and does the work He has commanded it.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 Transformed, revamped, reconstructed. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is. His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

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3 Steps to Creating the New Perspective

1. Name all those lies and insecurities (expectations, loss, fear, your past) one by one and begin to pray the above scriptures over your life. Pray for a new mindset. Exchange guilt for grace, perfection for progress. Pray for God to change your heart and your perspective – exchanging the scratched lens for a clear one.

2. Find a picture of your younger self. Look at this little girl. Meditate on her sweet innocence before life had a chance to create the rough edges. Could you tell her that she doesn’t have what it takes to make it? Could you tell her that she’s ugly, undeserving, alone, won’t measure up? I don’t think so. Frame this picture. Encourage that little girl that she will make it. That she is everything God planned for her life. That she is redeemed, good, and deserving. That she is perfect and pleasing in His sight.

3. List what makes you happy. What gets you excited to wake up each morning? What are your hopes, talents, and dreams? What did you love doing as a kid? Perhaps it was climbing trees or swinging at the park. Go do it. Indulge yourself. You’re worth it.

Wherever your travels take you, don’t allow the unwanted baggage to hold you back, to weigh you down. It will cost you more than you’re willing to pay. God came to give you life and life more abundantly. Live in His fullness with a new you and a different view. Now go enjoy the journey.

 

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