Every time we take a trip, we pack our bags and load up our luggage. When we arrive back home, we empty the bags and put them away. But how often in life do we refuse to put the ‘baggage’ away? The fact is, too often, we carry baggage from our past that weighs us down and keeps us from experiencing the freedom God wants us to have. In this message, Pastor Ed Young helps us examine the baggage we carry, and he teaches us what it takes to unload the luggage and instead allow God to transform and change us so we can experience true and lasting freedom.
ILLUS: You know, every time I look at a SUV, especially like this one with all of the luggage on top, I think about a vacation that Lisa and I took years ago with our family. Our adult children were children then. The twins were a year, EJ was three, Lee Beth was eight. We went to the Hyatt Hill Country in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, to Sea World for a vacation. And I found out that it’s impossible to take kids on a vacation. I found out you never call it a vacation when you take your kids. It’s a family outing. So let’s just lose that word. Family vacation? No, it’s a family outing. Because when the kids are small, when you get back from the vacation, you need a vacation. Am I right?
Well, here’s what happened. We had this big SUV, I think we had a Suburban at the time and four kids, so there was no way the luggage would get in the car. So we piled the luggage on top of the car. We had these cheap luggage carriers, and it was like a CrossFit workout just to put all the paraphernalia on top of the car. It was unbelievable. It was like in August, triple-degree heat, and I had to take like two showers after I packed the car.
So we all loaded up and we headed out to beautiful San Antonio, Texas, to see Sea World. When we pulled up, the bellman at the hotel just stood there and he was like this. He said, “I’ve been doing this for eight years,” he said, “I’ve never seen this much luggage from one family on one car in my life.” That started our vacation.
So during the vacation, we had a good time. We had some conflict, arguments, you know, because everyone’s in close quarters, but it was good, it was good, really good. We were there for awhile, and then it was time to go back to Dallas. I was so excited. I got up early, went through the same drill and packed the car, and loaded up all of the baggage. I mean, we had portable playpens and strollers and Power Ranger duffle bags, we had it all. And I packed it up, and we headed out to the big D.
When we turned into our neighborhood, I was like, “Hallelujah!” I said to myself, “I will never do this again.” I turned into our neighborhood, there’s our house. Yes! Turned in the driveway, and instinctively, I pushed the garage door opener. And in my excitement, in my elation, I forgot about the baggage on top of the car. I pressed the gas, and boom! Drywall flying, boards, nails going everywhere. I ripped off the top of our garage. I was like, “Oh my goodness. I forgot, just for a second, the bags were up there!” Tore the garage to smithereens, and it was expensive to fix.
I think if the truth were known, a lot of us here would sort of identify with that story. A lot of us here have some serious family baggage. We’re carrying around a lot of baggage on top of our lives; yet, most of us are unaware that we have the baggage. We’re just sort of used to it. Now, we think it’s normal, we think it’s healthy. Yet, if we stop and look, we see the carnage, we see the destruction that the baggage is causing. And also, we’re discovering if we really take a look at our lives, that it’s expensive. And if we keep on driving the way we’ve been driving, if we keep on forgetting about the baggage, we’ll keep on destroying stuff, messing stuff up, and it’ll be very, very expensive. Life is too short to go through life like that.
Yet, what do we do? We say, “Okay, okay, I’m in control, I’m in control of my life. And I’m going to white-knuckle grip this steering wheel, and I’m going to do what I’m going to do, because I know best how to function as a father; I know best how to function as a spouse; I know best how to function as a high school student, as a single adult.”
Really? That’s why we’re all dysfunctional. We have dissed God’s function for our lives. Are you from a dysfunctional family? People say, “Oh, yeah, everybody’s dysfunctional.” Yeah, and technically that’s true, we’re all dysfunctional, I understand that. But do you come from a dysfunctional family? That’s a good question. Because if you do, you’ve got some baggage. If you do, it’s causing some carnage and destruction. If you do, it’s costing you something emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.
During this series, I’ve interviewed a lot of people about dysfunction. I’ve interviewed people from divorce situations. I’ve interviewed people from addiction situations. I’ve interviewed people who’ve been abused, whether it be physically or verbally. I’ve talked to psychologists. I’ve read scholarly papers. I have been in small group discussions about our family of origin. Then I went to the real source, the Bible. The Bible talks so much about dysfunction, and there’s so many dysfunctional families in the Bible. Have you ever thought about that? They’re littered throughout the pages of Scripture, dysfunctional families.
So in this series that I’m very, very excited about, and I’m happy, too, I’m so thrilled that you’re bold enough to be here. I really, really am, because that says a lot about who you are; that you’re like, “Okay, I want to get this right.” Because all of us have some issues, some baggage that we need to deal with.
But I thought we would have a working definition of a dysfunctional family. A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions.
Just for an example. How many of you come from a divorce situation, or maybe divorce has touched your family in some way? Lift your hand. Wow! See, divorce has affected our family as well. Abuse. Verbal, physical abuse, lift your hand, it’s okay. All right, unbelievable. How about addiction? Now I’m talking about drugs, alcohol, but also I’m talking about maybe you’re in a family, and you’re like, “Man, my father is addicted to himself. My mother is addicted to herself. I mean, they drink themselves, you know. They’re dry drunks.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So we all deal with dysfunction. But some of us, in fact, I would say the majority of us have emerged from families like this. Now, I want you to hear me very, very clearly. I’m not here to parent bash, I’m not here to slam our family of origin. I’m not. Because really, when we parent bash, we’re bashing ourselves. Have you ever thought about that? Because you are your parents, and I am my parents.
And one of the reasons that we’re married is that our spouse keeps us from turning exactly into our mother or father. Did you know that? “Oh, you’re acting just like your mother. That look.” Be careful, guys, be careful with that one. You know what I’m saying, though.
And we need to build on the good of our families. Our families, you can find some good, some good things, build on those things. And the things that weren’t so good, you know, go “Wow, not going to do that! I’m going to go the other way.”
Here, though, is the problem. We try to change and we can’t. That’s what we need to understand. I can’t change in and of myself, and you can’t change in an of yourself. If you think about psychology, for example. Psychology, the world of psychology just takes unique terms and words and attaches them to sin and the results of sin. That’s what psychologists do. And for the most part, they’re great at labeling stuff. But they fall miserably short when they talk about the cure. Now, if they’re Christian psychologists, that’s a whole other game, because they’re coming from the anchor of Scripture. But let’s just be real here, you know, we can’t change. I can’t change, you can’t change.
And a lot of us need to come to that point where we go, “God, I don’t have the juice, I don’t have the sauce, I don’t have the stuff to change. I can’t change.” Say that with me. I can’t change. That’s liberating. Because we want to control our lives. I can do it, I can change. “I know how to best function as a father, a mother, a student, a child, a single adult. I know how.” No, no, no, no, you can’t change.
And I have got to ask you, are you dealing with your baggage? The Bible says in Isaiah 57 18:19, “I’ve seen how they acted, but I will heal them, I will lead them and help them. I will comfort those who mourn and offer peace to all, both near and far.”
Okay, let’s personalize this verse. And here’s how I would read it if I personalized it. Isaiah 57:18-19. “I have seen how Ed has acted, but I will heal him. I will lead Ed and help Ed. I will control Ed when he mourns. I will offer peace to Ed, both near and far.”
That’s the text, that’s the foundational text of this entire series, adult children, because we want children to act like adults, and then we have adults acting like children. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why.
The root of our problem and the fruit of our problem goes all the way back to the origin of our family of origin. The origin of our family of origin would be that husband and wife team, you know, that crooked landscaper, and that diva named Eve. They’re the ones, they’re the ones who dropped the ball, they’re the ones who said, “Hey, I want to be God, I want to run the show.”
So from there, forget genetics, let’s talk about sinetics. From there, we’ve been dealing and trying to process these issues, these bags.
See this duffle bag right here? This is a heavy, heavy bag. This looks like some of us. I mean when God sees us, this is what he sees. Other people don’t, but this is what he sees. You’re single adult, maybe you meet someone online, okay, wow. You have coffee with them. You walk into the coffee shop like this, with a duffle bag. This thing’s heavy. There are blocks in here. You’re a single parent or student running around. Yeah. But this duffle bag. Baggage, man. Baggage.
The baggage comes from our depravity, you know, we’re sinners, we’ve messed up. We get that from Adam and Eve and we double down on our dysfunction, and we become more and more and more dysfunctional. We diss God’s function for our lives and it’s recreated and the luggage is redistributed in the family of origins.
So let’s just see what’s in our duffle bag. I told you it was heavy. Thankfully, your pastor is super strong, and can carry this heavy weight and burden on his shoulder. Any baggage here? And some of you, I’m telling you, are like this. “I don’t have any baggage, are you kidding me?” Really? “I’m not really messed up or there’s no carnage as I look in the rear view mirror of my life.” Oh, think about it. Is it damaging? You feel like, whoa, man. I just feel like I’ve been paying the piper, you know.
What’s in the this bag, what’s in this bag? You come from a dysfunctional family, again, a family of, let’s say, for example, divorce, abuse, let’s say addiction. Perfectionism. Perfectionism. We have a tendency to be perfectionistic sometimes when we emerge from dysfunctional families. Everything’s got to be right, everything’s got to be perfect. Maybe your mom or dad, they were very perfectionistic. Or maybe, like in my family, the pendulum has gone the other way, from perfectionism to “Man, I’m just going to be laid back. No problem, man. I’m just going to chill.”
But see, we work hard at trying not to work hard. We’re still perfectionistic in our laid-backness. But that’s a whole other subject.
Control. Oh, I want to control, I want to control my problems, I want to control my past, I want to control people, I want to control. And if I’m out of control, it reminds me of my family of origin, because my family of origin, see, we were out of control. So I’ve got to control, I’ve got to control my spouse, I’ve got to control my finances, I’ve got to control.
Guilt. That’s a big one, isn’t it? We carry guilt. Some of the guilt we carry is not necessary. What if my kids had gone, “Oh, dad, the reason the garage got all jacked up and messed up is because of my Power Ranger duffle bag.” Or the twins had said, “It’s because of my playpen, my portable playpen.” No, no, no, no, no. I’m the idiot. I messed up. You see what I’m saying to you? So some of us are living life and we’re carrying this guilt and shame around that we shouldn’t carry, we’re not made to carry it. What’s in your duffle bag?
Egotism. “It’s all about me.” I talked to one family therapist who said, if you take a dysfunctional family, and usually you have one member who’s dysfunctional, he said, you watch, everybody in the family will orbit around their dysfunction. And then, as people orbit, as family members orbit around the dysfunction, they will fly out of the family with great trajectory and oftentimes repeat the dysfunction whether it be abuse, whether it be divorce, whether it be addiction. Really, really sinister.
Then you have criticism. You grew up in a family where your dad, your mom, just criticized you. You couldn’t do anything right. The criticism hurts, doesn’t it. So what do you do? Well, you emerge from this dysfunction, and you criticize others. Because when I criticize you, I feel better about myself, I think, but not really. I feel bad. But I want you to feel as bad as I do, so I’m going to criticize you. “I don’t like the way you walk, I don’t like your car, your house is too big.”
Forgiveness, or the lack thereof. What a gift we can give ourselves. We’re going to learn how to forgive ourselves in this series. Some of us, again, we’re carrying in the duffle bags, guilt and shame, we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others. That’s why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Because when we do that, we’re going to walk in grace and mercy and humility and forgiveness. I’ve been much forgiven, so the least I can do is forgive you, release you, mom, release you, dad, uncle, brother, sister, someone who take advantage of you, someone who shamed you, someone who left you.
Deception. You know what? I’ve never seen the level of lying like we have in our culture today. People will just, I mean flat out lie for no reason. And the liars that I’ve come in contact with, even here, over the last couple of decades, some of the stories I can tell you would blow your mind. Lying. You grew up in a deceptive household. And of course, we have this deceptive depravity in our lives from our original family of origin. Remember that? Adam and Eve. So we have this desire to deceive, to exaggerate, to hide, to cover our tracks. It’s, again, sin.
Anxiety. Anybody here understand anxiety? So, so, so, prevalent. Anxious. We grew up in an anxious family, and now we’re anxious, and we’re anxious about so many things, about the future, about the past, about our family now, about our lives.
Anger. It’s another big one. You show me someone who’s grown up in a dysfunctional family and I’ll show you somebody who has an anger issue. Defensive, ready to pounce, because they saw that modeled in family and that’s just how people roll. Or, we’ve taken all our emotions and bottled them, and Tupperwared them in our lives. “If you cross me, if you get up in my grill, if you cut me off on the overpass.” Anger. Anger.
In this duffle bag of dysfunction is something else, and then promiscuity. Sexual promiscuity. Let’s talk about that, because maybe you grew up in the family of a divorce situation. Alcohol, drugs, narcissism. Maybe you grew up with some sort of abuse. What do you do as a young person going through puberty, you begin to say to yourself, You know what? Wow! I need intimacy, I need love, I need acceptance.” So you have these young girls and the first guy that winks at them, the first guy that sends them a suggestive text, boom! They’re having sex with that guy. And the same thing can happen to guys as well. And then you have confusion, and these families where maybe you have an absentee father or mother, you have homosexuality, and addiction to porn, lust. I think we see it played out all the time.
And if you look at how many couples are living together now, I understand it, I get it. “I’m not going to repeat what I saw in my family. I mean, my parents hated each other. They divorced, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to test drive this girl, test drive this guy for a while until we get married, and I’m not even sure if we are.”
Depravity, dysfunction, this diabolical nature that the enemy has perpetrated upon us. Trust issues. A lot of us just have a hard time trusting people. I read this over and over. Just trusting, just having faith in someone. Because the trust was always broken in your family. “Hey! We’re going to go to that game. Hey, we’re going to take that trip. Hey, we’re going to do this or that. Hey, we’re going to go to Sea World.” But when the time came, it didn’t happen. So you got trust issues, and you go abandonment issues, and they segue into trust issues.
And then approval. Oh man, I’ve got, I want to hear the words I never heard growing up. “Ed, you matter. Ed, I love you. Ed, you’re really great at doing that.” I know so many, especially men, who are on that treadmill doing this doing that, wanting to hear those words they never heard as a child. Wow! Approval.
ILLUS: I have a friend who lives in another state. And God has blessed his life, he is so, so successful for the things of God and he’s an amazing guy. Yet, he’s on that approval treadmill to such a degree, I just want to see him and give him a hug and go, “Man, you’re the man. You’re doing. You don’t have to do all this stuff for people’s approval. You know this. You got God’s approval. You got your family’s approval. You do.” It’s just amazing. And I guarantee you, back in this, this guy’s life in this duffle bag, you got these issues.
Kind of negative, isn’t it? You’re just like, “Oh man, wow, this is heavy!” It is heavy! This is a very, very heavy series. So, what we do is, I’ll say it again, we double down on our, on our dysfunction. We say, “I can control it, I can do it, I’m the man, I’m the girl,” and it doesn’t work. Because again, we forget about the extent of the baggage, we forget about the destruction that we’ve caused, and we forget how much it’s going to cost.
Well here’s some good news. The first thing, we’ve already said, let’s say it again. We have to admit that we can’t change. So, I have to admit I can’t change. Say that with me, one, two, three, “I can’t change.” I can’t change. I can’t. I’m helpless, I’m hopeless, I don’t have the juice, I don’t have the sauce to change. I can’t change.
Here’s the root of my problem. Genesis 3:5. I’m going to fly through these, and just take notes. “For God knows that when you eat from it,” this is the enemy, our origin of the family of origin, talking to that crooked landscaper, right, that diva, that’s Adam and Eve, kind of a little joke there, get it? I guess you didn’t, that’s okay, that’s okay. No one laughed, I don’t think they even. That’s okay. Okay, Adam, a landscaper, ’cause God said, manage my garden. See, okay, crooked landscaper. And Eve being a beautiful diva. Did you get that earlier? Did everyone get that? I thought it was pretty funny, but I guess when the topic is this serious, I understand, it is kind of hard to laugh, but. Okay. “For God knows that when you eat from it,” the devil says, your eyes will be opened.” Notice that’s the omnipresence of God. Write that in the margin. “…and you’ll be like God,” that’s the omnipotence of God, “…knowing good and evil.” That’s the omniscience of God.
Adam was trying to be God. He was trying to function as God, dysfunction. He’s dissing the function of God. He’s saying, “I’m going to function as God.” That’s still my problem. I fight that every day.
So what’s the result of living like this? I mean, of this dysfunction? What’s the result? Fear, fear. So many people deal with fear these days over so many different issues. The Bible says in Genesis 3:10, and this is basically what Adam said. “I was, say it afraid, because I was naked.” That’s the pilot episode of Naked and Afraid right there, you have it. Okay. Feel good now, approval. Approval. I have approval issues, I do, okay. Thank you.
Frustration. It’s another one, Psalm 32:3. My dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with,” let’s say it together, “frustration.”
Are you frustrated? Are you fearful? You’re trying to control your own life. You’re trying to function as God.
Fatigue is another one. Psalm 32:4-5. “My strength,” let’s say it together, “evaporated like water on a sunny day, until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them.”
Denial takes energy. And here’s what I thought about this car. This car, let me get a tight shot of this. This car is called a Denali. If you rearrange those letters, you got denial. Somebody help me with that. Thank you for the approval, again. Thank you. I’m feeling so good now. But see, it doesn’t last long. See what I’m saying to you? And it’s great, yeah, but I want some more applause, I want more people. I want more likes and more clicks. You have to understand that you’re approved by God.
So we’re fearful, we’re frustrated, we’re fatigued, and then how about failure? You ever feel like a failure? Wow, maybe you’re asker is broken? You’ve not asked God to take control of your life. Proverbs 28:13, “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up. Then God will show mercy to you.”
So step one, I can’t change, say it with me. I can’t change. Step two, God can change me. Step two, let’s say it, God can change me. Jesus is all about change. The gospel is all about change. Change, change, change.
The change cannot take place unless there’s an exchange. And that’s what happened on the cross, the exchange. I can trade my mistakes for God’s mercy, my guilt for his grace, my shame for the Savior. What kind of deal is that?
So the work’s been done. Jesus has the power, the octane, the juice, the sauce to change my life. To change trust issues, perfectionism, control, egotism, approval, forgiveness, promiscuity, anger, anxiety, deception, criticism, and guilt, and many, many more. It’s about Jesus.
Well, what happens when we do this? Well, what happens when we say, “Okay, God, I can’t change, and I admit that to you, but I know you can, and the change agent is Jesus.” What happens? Well, here we go. We can comprehend God’s character. What does that mean? God knows about my problem. Isn’t that great? God knows about my criticism, God knows about my trust issues, God knows about my promiscuity.
Psalm 56:8, let’s say it together. “You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears.” Now, what about that? A little bottle with your name on it, all the tears you ever shed. That’s strong. So God knows about my problem.
God is sympathetic about my problem. Psalm 103:13, “He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic.”
God can change my problem, Luke 18:27. “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
So we comprehend God’s character, and we simply comply with God’s offer. What’s God’s offer? Last verse we’re going to read. Philippians 2:13, for it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.
That’s willpower. That’s willpower. I can’t change. God, you can change me. Every day for the next week, wake up, “God, I can’t change. But God, I believe and know you can change me.”
So right now, focus in on the primary block that you’re dealing with. You might be like, “Well, man, I’m all of these.” No, no, no, no, no. Let’s just do one. The first one, the Holy Spirit of God brings to mind, I don’t know what it is. That is your homework this week. You mention that, because you’re prolific when you’re specific. You mention that, you own that, you tell God about it. You say, “God, I have tried, I can’t change, you can. I have the power in my life,” because it’s my prayer that you give your life to Christ. He wants to meet you right where you are. He knows about your problem. He’s sympathetic about your problem. He can change your problem and mine.
Another thing I want to challenge you to do is to think about community. I have it written down right here, the bottom of all the Scriptures that I’ve been reading, community. That is what I kept hearing over and over and over and over and over again over the last several weeks as I researched this particular topic, community, community. Do this in community. Face this in community. Don’t face it by yourself, in community, community, community. Our church is a place of community. We have small groups, community. We have table talk, community. We have Bible studies, community, community, community. We serve in community. Make sure you do this in community, because I’m here to tell you, you’re not the only one who’s carrying around this stuff. We all are.
And I’m so happy we have a church like Fellowship Church, that’s open and honest about the baggage, the sin. I’m so glad that we have a church that’s open and honest about the problems that it can cause. And I’m so happy that we’re so open and honest about talking about the cost, because where are you going to be in five years from now? 10 years from now? Are you going to keep on driving the way you’ve been driving? Clueless about your baggage? Clueless about the destruction? Continuing to just pay and pay and pay? Jesus paid it all. He took your destruction and mine. And if we’ll just confess who we are to him, he’ll come in and begin to change our lives. Is that good news?
Man, I needed to hear that myself. Adult children, children act like adult and adults act like children, yet adults become a believer by having the faith like a child. And I want to help you and lead you and include you in this prayer as I believe many of you will follow Jesus.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]