This poor sunflower has some baggage issues.

Oh, she started with good intentions. She soaked up enough water to split her shell. She put down tender roots, pale as moon-beams, and tucked herself into the soil. Embryonic cotyledons, the twin jump-start leaves that lay within the seed itself, grew and stretched and sought the sun.

But now, the very husk that offered her protection in her infancy could be her most potent liability. If she can't muster the courage to part ways with that shell, her progress will be cramped, to say the least.

Have you ever had trouble giving your baggage the boot?

We live in a warped world. None of us will escape being wounded at some point - only the severity and causes of the hurt will differentiate us from each other. The effects are the same. We will try to protect ourselves, using whatever means we have at our disposal.

At first, we will gain some sort of satisfaction or reward from our protective coat. We will avoid some bruises, and liking the effect, curl up even tighter within our shell, our protection mechanism of choice. The ways in which we seek to avoid harm will harden around us, setting up patterns of relating to others.

The only problem is, sooner or later, or shells will hold us back from the glory God designed us to display. They will pinch us into a corner, cramp our style, create extra weight that will prevent us from opening up to meaningful intimacy.

Talk about baggage.

We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. 2 Corinthians 6:12-13

The Apostle Paul is speaking here about getting rid of shells. Letting guards down. Allowing for the potential of pain in order to be open to potential intimacy. He is encouraging some new Christians to let go of some of their self-protection mechanisms to pave the way for deeper relationships.

Scary?

Absolutely.

Risky?

Entirely.

But intimacy with others in our lives opens our hearts to understanding how intimacy with God is supposed to work. Holding our true selves back from God is a huge barrier to living in the peace, joy, and spiritual prosperity He promises.

A fear of intimacy with others - and God Himself - is a big blinking dashboard light indicating something deeper, the roots of the shell we carry with us. Recognizing the warning signal invites us to give our baggage the boot. To work our way toward more meaningful connections with our fellow sojourners. To intentionally move toward God in an open and honest and vulnerable posture.

To live in love, the highest calling we could achieve in our life.

Is your shell starting to hold you back?

Maybe it's time to give your baggage the boot...

For a poem on this topic, visit Meanwhile, Melody Muses