Lessons I Learned From My Purse
In full confession I need to tell you that I don’t actually carry a purse. It’s more like a multifaceted survival kit.
It rivals the arsenal for a doomsday-prepper. This purse/tote/bail-out bag is roughly the size of a toddler, potentially should be on wheels, and, as I have discovered, is too large to fit in the overhead compartment of an airline. (Although, to be fair, if the plane went down, I’m fairly certain I would have everything needed to feed all passengers, create a triage, make a flotation device, signal an awaiting flight crew, and potentially land the plane!) My Kelly green oversized tote from Target holds everything … and I do mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that I could possibly need for a day … ok, maybe a week, of anything life throws at me.
There is something very important you need to know about this bag. It is HEAVY! I mean, who doesn’t want to be prepared for the end of civilization, or a societal collapse, or mass medical emergencies, but must it come at the cost of a herniated disk or scoliosis? One day, when I’m old and tilted sideways, someone will ask me what happened and I will simply have to tell them that a purse did this to me.
In a moment of truthful honesty with myself … and my bag … I stared deeply into this over-prepared haversack and I felt the Holy Spirit gently whisper…Why do you carry around all of this stuff?
My first response was, of course: Well, I need it! I carry this bag because I want to be prepared for anything. I don’t want to be caught without something I need. I don’t want the rug to be pulled out from under me. I don’t want not to have what I need when I need it.
I am prepared to carry all of the responsibility for my life, no matter the weight it bears, because if not me then whom? As I stared into the compartments of my own preparedness, the truth slowly crept through me: I don’t trust anyone but myself.
As a Christian, this realization struck the vulnerable places of my faith. The familiar promises of Proverbs that I memorized long ago weighed on my being: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path” (Prov. 3:5-6). But, as Francis Chan writes in his book Crazy Love: “Much of our talk doesn’t match our lives. We say things like, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,’ then we live and plan like we don’t believe God even exists. We try to set up our lives so everything will be fine even if God doesn’t come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His promises.”
If we boil it all down – my bag, my purse, my life – what I’m really saying is: I don’t trust God to provide for me. If He “lets me down,” I can handle it. I’m in control and totally prepared. My life is comfortable as it is, without enough risk to make me vulnerable and just enough independence to make me autonomous. But this isn’t the way I was meant to live.
And if you are resonating with these words, friend, this isn’t the life the Lord designed for you either. It is contrary to the gospel. The cross of Christ demands my reliance on His sacrifice for not only the payment of my sin but then also the sufficiency of my everyday needs.
Yet, I often think I can do a better job at providing for my life. I believe I can control my circumstances if I am simply prepared and ready. And isn’t that what it’s really about? The trust that places my locus of control on me?
Don’t be fooled though – there is a trade off to self-reliance. By trusting in myself alone I strip myself of opportunities to trust God. I am blinded to the things the Lord may want to teach me, show me, or do for me because my plan supersedes His involvement.
The Lord has promised to be my Burden-Lifter (Matt 11:30), my Cross-Carrier (1 Pet 2:24), my Wound-Healer (Is 30:26), my Whole-Heart-Maker (Ps 86:11), and my Need-Provider (Phil 4:19). All of the things that He is provides for my actual needs. My heart-cries are answered in Jesus alone. My deep longing is satiated in Christ.
So maybe I should take a few things out of my bag. Go a little lighter for a season. And open myself to the gift of trust that awaits me by letting go of my compulsion to be prepared.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll see me walking around one day … with a clutch!