My youngest daughter and I had quite an experience at the airport in Chicago a few weeks ago. We loaded all of our things into tubs to go through security and then sat down to put ourselves back together again. We put on and tied our boots, strapped the laptop back in its bag, collected our winter coats (it was 30 below zero that day), grabbed Stella's booster seat, pulled up the handle for her carry-on and tried to stay out of everyone else's way all at the same time. We walked a little ways to a restaurant and ordered some food. As we were approaching the cash register, I realized that my purse was nowhere in sight. In a moment of panic, I decided that I must have left it in a tub on the conveyor belt. We raced back and asked the guard, who appeared to be in charge, if he had my purse. He directed us to "the booth." Immediately a man approached and told me that I had left my purse under a seat in the security area. Gulp. I made some half-hearted joke that "at least I had remembered my child." He did not laugh. My purse holds a lot of important things: ID, money, credit cards, keys and a shot in case my daughter has a severe allergic reaction. I am usually so careful to keep an eye on it, but there were so many other things I was trying to keep track of that I did not immediately realize it was missing. I was concerned with gathering up all of our baggage and that kept me from remembering something very important. Hanging on to too much emotional baggage can keep us from remembering what really is important, too. Recently a friend betrayed me. It came as quite a surprise, and I could feel myself immediately getting frustrated and angry. The next day I was still upset. The Lord was quick to point out that a root of bitterness was beginning to grow and I needed to get rid of it immediately. I was "hanging on" to the incident and not holding the other person in very high regard. In the past, I would not have realized and maybe would not have even cared. Unfortunately, bitterness has been a very familiar feeling. It can have some pretty deep roots, and the deeper they grow, the harder they are to pull up. Just like dandelions. As a child, I was often given the chore of pulling up dandelions in the yard. I did not always do it the way I was supposed to - I preferred to pick the flowers and make pretty yellow bouquets. But before long, even more dandelions would grow because I had merely yanked the stems out. Those weeds would only stay away if I used the special pronged tool to pull them out by the roots. Ephesians 4:31 admonishes us to "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior." It is not easy to get rid of bitterness when someone has really wronged you. Believe me, I do not say this lightly. I also know that bitterness will eat away at your soul if you allow it to continue to grow. It will spread to other areas of your life, just like dandelions can travel across the lawn and then into the neighbor's yard. Invite God to use that weed picker and pull out the bitterness. While you're at it, let Him have at the rage and anger, too. It might be painful to dig up, and it may not disappear completely overnight, but it is very freeing to let it go. When there is less baggage, there is more room for remembering the important things - like clothing yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12) Ahwatukee Foothills resident Lisa Jisa is a member of the Foothills Baptist Church, where she is active in the choir and mission work. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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