The Problem of the Backpack.
Anyperson had a backpack; not your normal kind of backpack that comes off, that you can put objects in, but a backpack that was attached, one that nobody else could see, but Anyperson knew it was there. What went in there was not normal objects – your phone, your bottle of water – but feelings, thoughts, memories, take-ins from people Anyperson met. This backpack was a place where negativity went. Positive memories – those would be stored somewhere else. The backpack was for all those stupid, wrong things that Anyperson had done; for all those things which were neither stupid nor wrong, but which Anyperson felt, or had been told, were either or both. This backpack leaked; when Anyperson made a mistake, or thought they might have done, all those negative feelings and thoughts in the backpack came flooding out. How stupid you are, Anyperson; you’re such a failure, you can’t get anything right!
The backpack was heavy; heavier than the accumulated items in there might have felt; together they made a heavy burden. It made living Anyperson’s life so much the harder; whatever Anyperson did, whatever daily life brought, happened with the backdrop of the backpack, heavy, dragging, often leaking the certainty that Anyperson was a waste of space. Anyperson tried so hard to counteract it! Trying to get everything they did right, correct, perfect – but that led to an overwhelming leaking of feelings when they didn’t succeed, as was inevitable. Trying so hard to please those people Anyperson met during the day, to keep them happy, to do as they wanted – and sometimes this worked. But Anyperson could never be sure, and often there were people they couldn’t please, for reasons Anyperson had no control over. But it took a long time for Anyperson to realise this, and it all led to more accumulations in the backpack. Life was a struggle. Anyperson felt so afraid, scared that people would see the backpack and realise all how stupid and horrible they were.
Anyperson wasn’t actually any more stupid and horrible than many of the other people they met; and, of course, just as nobody could see Anyperson’s backpack, so Anybody couldn’t see the backpacks of other people. But one day Anyperson decided that they were never going to deal with the problem of the backpack by themselves, they needed help. So Anyperson sought out Wiseperson, and spent much time exploring the contents of the backpack. Wiseperson couldn’t see the backpack, but Anyperson was able to tell Wiseperson what they knew of it, and over time was able to explore more and more of the contents, and put them in their proper context.
Anyperson also found going to Church more helpful. Previously, they had seen God as yet one more person to be kept happy, but one who had more power. Gradually, Anyperson realised that God was not like that. God did not sit on a metaphorical cloud, ready to send a thunderbolt down every time Anyperson did something wrong. Anyperson knew that on one level, but the idea was stored deep down in the backpack, and had prevented them from exploring further how much God in fact loved Anyperson.
One day, Anyperson was sitting in a quiet Church silent, praying, and felt God whispering to them.
“Little child, I love you.
You are my friend.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
Look at what I did for you.
Look at my hands and side,
the holes of the nails,
the gash of the spear.
Look at how much I love you.
Do you really think I would reject you?
I love you.
I leave you my Spirit,
a part of me
to remain with you forever.
Because I love you, my child.”
Anyperson came to realise that the backpack and its contents would always be there – that though the contents had gradually become much less, they would never totally disappear, but Anyperson had become better at managing the leaks; Anyperson also realised that some of things they had done were wrong or stupid, but that actually that was just part of normal life. Anyperson was able to bring those times to God in prayer and know that they were forgiven – “My child, your sins are forgiven you”. Anyperson held on to that promise God had given them, to never leave or forsake them, that the Spirit would remain with Anyperson as God’s gift. Anyperson was able to live again.