Emotional baggage is at the root of many marriage break downs.
Marriage breakdowns bring incredible heartache and issues. The pain and disillusionment brought on by broken relationships kills something inside. How can it be that people love their spouse so intently only to want to walk away?
The truth is that people bring in unresolved emotional baggage that leads to reoccurring issues. Constant grating due to character flaws brings much hurt, couples feel overwhelmed and decide they need out. Negative, raw, unprocessed emotions, and their associated thinking patterns are like dangerous, exposed electrical cables. They must be tied up before they do harm.
For example, if you experienced rejection, abuse or betrayal in a former relationship you may greatly struggle to trust your spouse. This can lead to an inability to have intimacy of relationship and sexual intimacy with your spouse. When in denial of issues people generally blame each other, exacerbating the problem. Our baggage often blinds us. We must get to the root of it to deal with it.
God empties baggage to fill us up.
In reaction to the Jerusalem famine, Naomi went to Moab where she and her boys married. However, tragedy eventually struck. (See Ruth Chapter 1). Ten years of their lives and toil appeared a total waste and was a horror tragedy. Naomi’s husband and sons all died. Naomi, Ruth’s mother in law, was in so much pain she changed her name from Naomi meaning pleasantness to Mara, meaning bitter.
There are things that often trigger and load us up with emotional baggage, and then there is inherit character flaws we all have too. Like physical baggage, emotional baggage weighs us down. Maybe you are feeling like a ‘Mara’ today. Her grief at the loss of her husband. She lost her sons. She lost her dignity. She probably felt great condemnation over not trusting God to remain in Jerusalem.
She called herself Mara and said, “I went away full and came back empty.” The truth was God used what happened to empty out her baggage in order to fill her up. That is the way of the Almighty God for us also.
5 keys to overcoming emotional baggage.
1. Be real; accept that baggage is baggage!
When friction occurs with our spouse, reoccurring themes, it can be heart wrenching. Our spouse may be gracious and point out things or as pressure mounts, may shout it out to you. You must change! Accept you have baggage! They are confirming what our hearts are telling us.
A broken heart is like a car dash board continually signalling red, motion is impeded. Don’t get in a rut, when you hear “God is coming to aid of his people;” (See Ruth chapter 1) turn to him with fresh hope.
2. Don’t become the savage with your baggage.
Baggage is heavy and weighs us down and keeps us trapped in the same old pattern of thinking. If we don’t deal with it, it leads to becoming a savage! Paul spoke of a savage tendency of the Galatian believers; “If you keep biting and devouring each other watch out that you don’t destroy each other.”
Maybe your family life feeling toxic and full of grief like Ruth and Naomi, arguments may erupt too easily. Stop blaming yourself, God is not condemning you. God loves you and has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”
3. Instead of holding to baggage take hold of God’s courage.
Ruth decided to follow with her sister in law Orpah. But, as they set out following Naomi they both realised that there was nothing ahead for them. Naomi could not give anything, certainly not another husband.
Ruth started to question what is important. she reasoned following God was the priority and found courage. Look to God to find courage to change. Then, show case God’s love to your partner, so they can know God.
4. Make a clean break from the baggage so you manage.
Ruth came to her cross road when Orpah left and said, “where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. And she was willing to die for it.
When we covenant with God fully the power of porn, anger, jealousy, envy, immorality, adultery, lying, and other sins will drop off. You can become self-managed and get on top.
5. Baggage becomes a badge, when you tap into God’s redeeming plan.
Ruth came to Jerusalem a stranger and foreigner, helping her mother in law. She gleaned the scraps in a field, working hard day after day to support her. She was unashamed or her past or her plight. Her baggage became a badge when she found God was her kinsmen redeemer, enabling her to find herself.
So, find your field, a local church and serve Jesus there. Let God take you on his road to redemption also; your baggage can be a badge of honour as you give it to Jesus. Our badge of honour is that we are his children.
6. Go from baggage to carriage
Despite all her obstacles, Ruth was accepted and even married again to an owner of a wealthy estate. Jesus is your Boaz; your kinsmen redeemer. God sees Christ as we walk in faith and love, and pass through the season of pruning, we are transformed to be people of legacy and fruitfulness. Ruth was called, “better than seven sons,” and bore a child in the messianic line. God replaced the baggage with a carriage so Ruth and Naomi became greatly honoured.
God can turn things around and make all things beautiful!
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many, suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, in 1990 for about four years. He worked as a pastor-life coach with Hope International Ministries from 2002 to May 2023, playing a key role in raising up leaders and elders for the local Melbourne Hope church, which lead today. Mark has also been active in conducting yearly trips to remote Indigenous communities, bringing teams for training and outreach, which he initiated from 2015. He also established a salt and light ministry to empower saints of influence in the marketplace from 2017.
Mark is also an artist and an author and has written two books which are both a collection of his own paintings, photography, and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia- With a voice to release your giant potential within,’ which are available now on booktopia.com.au and at leading book retailers. He has been counted among some of Australia’s best authors on several occasions through Dymocks since 2014 and continues to be a motivational speaker in various community groups, organisations, and churches.
He is currently pioneering his itinerant ministry to bless Indigenous people and empower the body of Christ, while working as an artist, author and speaker.