Emotional Baggage and Relationships

Emotional baggage is made up of the pain, stress, and unresolved conflicts in our lives that we refuse to acknowledge and “unpack.” Did you know that your decisions regarding your emotional baggage don’t just affect you? It’s true. The health of your heart directly impacts the health of your relationships. Let’s examine why together.

In my life, this has been absolutely true. In fact, it was my emotional baggage that almost caused me to miss one of the greatest things God has ever given me: my wife. When we met, I had a lot of unpacked baggage; thankfully, throughout our relationship, my wife has helped me to examine and deal with a lot of those issues. I’m healthier and happier now; but it could have been a much different story.

I share this in the beginning of this conversation about emotional baggage because the truth is, we all gather emotional baggage over the course of our lives. It’s just part of the territory. These feelings come from places and people that we’ve encountered over the years. Maybe some of it is even the result of our own decisions! Regardless, emotional baggage is something we each allow to remain in our lives by failing to address it. When we collect excess amounts of it, this baggage actually ends up preventing us from having meaningful relationships. And this ultimately jeopardizes our future.

Why? Because, from the start of creation until today, whenever God has done anything in the world and in the lives of His people, guess how He’s chosen to do it? Through people! Through relationships. Some people believe they don’t need anyone else: “I can be okay with just God and me. He’s all I need. If He wants to bless me, He can send a check in the mail.”

I want to tell these people to slow down and think. This perspective simply isn’t true! For one thing, even if God was to send you a check in the mail, you’d need the mailman to deliver it to your box, wouldn’t you? God is always working through people and relationships; so how we handle our relationships is paramount to fulfilling our purpose.

We can’t carry excess emotional baggage and healthy relationships at the same time. It’s simply not possible. If we don’t deal with the bitterness, hurt, and anger in our lives, we won’t have the capacity to engage in life-giving bonds with other people. We won’t have anything healthy to give them!

Even God in the flesh demonstrated this principle: Jesus coming to earth was God’s providence working through a person! Jesus didn’t allow excess emotional baggage into His life, because He knew that God’s purposes for Him included several close relationships with others. If the Son of God needed friends and family around Him, how do we think we’re going to make it all alone?

So in order to prepare yourself to enter into the relationships God has for you—and the purpose that will become clearer and more accessible because of those relationships—it’s imperative that you unpack, examine, and do away with your emotional baggage. In the end, it will be so worth the struggle and discomfort.

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