What’s in That Bag?

By Gena Anderson

About the third journey my daughter took to summer camp, I decided to let her do the packing. To my surprise she was eager to take on the job. Of course, I verified she had the essentials, but I mostly left the task to her. She had a gigantic laundry bag that looked on the verge of bursting, in addition to her trunk, and she assured me that everything in the bag was needed at camp. Though the bag seemed excessive, I rolled with it and let her have her independence.

When we made it to her room for the week she quickly dug into that bag, revealing her life-size teddy bear she had carefully concealed under a few items of clothing. You know the kind. It’s the one every kid wants and no parent is willing to buy, but the grandparents or a ultra-cool aunt shows up with. And let me tell you, the grin on her face as she held her monstrous, fluffy, beloved contraband, was priceless. 

I’m not sure what thrilled her more, the presence of the bear itself, or the fact that she snuck it in right under my nose. My grandmother always said that if your child is smart, they’ll lie to save their own skin. I’ll second that and add they’ll also go to great lengths to sneak something they really want if they don’t think you’ll let them have it. 

The memory of her innocent deception makes me smile, and also wonder. How often do we hide things because we are afraid of someone’s reaction? Are there times we lug our desires and dreams around, secretly hidden from anyone’s sight? When our children, friends, or others choose to share their pain, plans, or dreams what is our reaction? If my daughter had asked permission to bring the bear, I probably would have said no, insisting there wasn’t enough room in the car or that it was unnecessary. She knew this, and had the tenacity to get the bear there without any interference. 

Was my daughter’s choice the right way to get her prized possession where she wanted it to be? Whether the method was right or wrong, she certainly accomplished the mission. She also taught this momma a thing or two. 

Sometimes extravagant joy trumps pragmatic planning. 

Life is more fun when we do things that make us smile, even when they don’t make sense. Children are good at teaching us this, just watch how they turn a box or bubble wrap into hours of fun. Practicality is essential, but it shouldn’t always win. Whether with your friends, children, or yourself, be an encourager of life-sized teddy bear-type dreams.

Hidden things can’t be used for their intended purpose.

Whether we are talking about a struggle, an amazing dream, or a big teddy bear, none of them can be put to good use if they’re hidden. I’ve learned that part of wellness is walking in our God-given purpose. While I won’t go so far as to say humongous teddy bears have divine purpose, I would bet my last dollar that you do. Keeping things hidden for fear of exposure or rejection is a tool Satan uses to keep us from joy. If there is something you’re hiding, for any reason, perhaps it’s time to reveal it?

The timing of revealing what’s in your bag can sometimes shock your haters into complete silence.

I know I just said hiding things keeps them from being used properly, but it is wise to carefully consider to whom and when you reveal, and start with people you trust. There is no fast-track to discouragement like the negative opinion of someone who is not on your team. When starting new endeavors or working through challenges, wise counsel is sometimes needed, but dream-crushing never is. Take your big things to God, let him lead you to trusted allies, then, when the time is right, uncover that beautiful teddy bear. By that time, it’ll be too late for anyone to talk you out of it, and they might even get so caught up in your joy that they decide to play along.

For years my giant bag was filled with dreams of writing. I kept it so well hidden that I had even forgotten I had a bag. The process of exploring and sharing that bag has brought me some exquisite blessings, and things are just getting started! What about you? What’s in your bag? Perhaps it’s time to take a look and share what’s been covered up. The world doesn’t need shame, deception, or timidity. It needs brave souls willing to tenaciously bring out the contents of their bag, and find joy in the process as much as the end result.  

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