When I was about two years old, I had a little suitcase. I would grab it often when I felt lonely or scared. I would pack only the essentials: one diaper and two pairs of bloomers. I knew how to hold down the pre-programmed number on the landline phone to call my Nannie Mary. Then, I would sit on the front porch to wait for her to pick me up, holding my little suitcase. Out of necessity, I understood younger than one should exactly how to protect myself from pain.
Back then I wanted to go to a happier place because my home wasn’t very happy. My father was an alcoholic and suffered from depression. On the days when my dad was left to care for me he would go in a room and stay there. If he did come out, he would lie on the couch. His interaction with me was limited and less than loving.
Sometimes, begging for his attention, I tried to make the best of an awful situation. I would imagine he was a really sick patient and I was his doctor. I would prepare his “medicine” in my little glass teacups and deliver it out to him on a tray. When I got no response, or a harsh reaction, I knew it was time to pack my little suitcase and find a safe haven from the dumping grounds of rejection.
Honestly, I have spent most of my time in relationships subconsciously preparing myself to avoid pain by gripping tightly onto the suitcase — still waiting to be rescued.
No one told me this reaction to pain would etch itself deep into my heart; and become a mainstay in my life for years to come. No one told me my heart wouldn’t just grow out of it as an adult.
Desperate now to reverse the hurt I was never intended to carry, I want to let it go. I am realizing more each day the value in sorting through the pain of rejection to discover the redemptive.
What happened to me before I had a choice does not determine the choices of my future. What if I could go back and talk to that little girl on the porch? Imagine if I could tell her this newfound truth?
I would sit close beside her and smile. I would put my arm tightly around her, lean down and say:
“One day you will know how to use your words to tell God and people exactly how you feel. No matter how hard it is, use them. When you wonder where God is, you will find He is always there with you. One day it will be safe and it will be okay to talk about it. At first it won’t be easy, but I believe in you. You will sometimes feel scared, but you will also be surprised to learn that you won’t have to carry it all alone. You will be free. And one day, you won’t have to pack your little suitcase anymore.”