2,676.5 miles away from home, I find myself in the quaint, little Bavarian town of Leavenworth Washington. For this trip, for every trip, I pack literally everything. Imagine going into your room and picking out all your favorite things and shoving them into one large bag. This includes and is not limited to make up, jewelry, clothes, shoes, hats, hair stuff, face products, those precious Young Living oils, the Bible you’ve had for over a decade, toiletries, a camera charger, retainers, you name it! Now, imagine getting to your final flight destination, going up to baggage claim, eagerly watching bag after bag come down the belt. Your bag must be last, right? It’s there, no need to worry, but it doesn’t ever come. In fact, the belt shuts off and the generous, luggage-dropping port hole closes. You are immediately disheartened with an “oh no, this can’t be” stab in the gut kind of feeling. I stood in disbelief. I didn’t even have a carry on.

Here I’m leaving for this Delight and Be retreat where I don’t know a single soul (and truthfully don’t even know much about in general) and now I don’t even have my personal belongings.

Let’s be real; it’s comforting to have the things that are familiar to you. So needless to say, my bag didn’t come the next day or the day after that or the day after that. Throughout that time, I would continue to receive sad emails saying it had not been located. My dear friend took me shopping for some things that I’d need and let me borrow some of her own clothes for the retreat. You know, they’re just things I’d say. I just need to keep a good perspective. I shouldn’t be so attached to materialistic things. Oh, but to think of what I’m losing. That’s probably over 1,000 dollars’ worth that can’t be replaced easily. My strong optimism was often broken by melt downs of anxiety and loss behind closed doors. Am I okay or am I okay? I don’t know. This whole trip started out with a curve ball thrown in it. I try not to let it distract me from the wonderful experience I was having. It was either, be a big girl about it or become as emotionally lost as my luggage.

I chose to avoid the cycle of anxious thoughts in order to be fully present in the place I was in.

At the retreat, three outfits were nicely draped across my bed and a bag of other necessities beside them. One of the ladies had heard about my situation and in her amazing kindness, brought the stuff for me to use. Girls were offering to bring me things I needed and others offered their own things for me to borrow. It was humbling to be in a position of simply receiving from complete strangers. I felt vulnerable, yet free…even more free to be myself without my things. There I was, in a completely unfamiliar location, thrown out of my comfort zone with a bunch of girls, and I’m just like “Well, this is me”. It almost seems humorous that the retreat itself ended up being a time of getting rid of our “baggage”. The baggage of lies and sin that we cling on to. You know, once I finally did get my luggage (by day four), I barely used anything from it. I realized that I didn’t need all the things I thought I did. The same goes when we let go of things keeping us from walking in our full identity. Those harmful things become so familiar that we get comfortable with them. Once we finally let go, we soon realize we didn’t need them after all.

It’s amazing what happens when you leave what’s familiar behind and are put in place where it’s just you and Jesus.

Finding yourself in a place of vulnerability, is uncomfortable, yes, but He is faithful. Our hearts may condemn us, but God is much greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). We can trust Him, knowing that He cares and is familiar with all our ways (Psalms 139:3). During that time, I found that I could let my guard down and receive acceptance.

I could stop playing perfect and reveal my struggles.

I could stop comparing and start loving deeper.

I could stop wishing and start praising.

I could stop being in control and simply let go.

I could stop being anxious and instead choose joy.

This marvelous journey is one I get to choose every day. Little did I know that this whole fiasco with my luggage was the best thing that could have happened to me on this trip. I learned that I didn’t need to feel guilty for wanting my things back, it was my perspective that needed to be shifted so that I wasn’t relying on materialistic things to become an identity source. We must grasp that the strongest place of identity we can come to, is our identity as children of God. Let us comprehend what that really means. It’s everything. That is our identity. A son, a daughter, loved and fathered by a perfect creator. The creator of our souls. Almighty God. Wow. That kind of identity is a place of fulfillment and joy, a place we can truly delight and be.

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