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  • janetmchenry

Getting Rid of Extra Baggage

Life can sure get complicated with a series of yeses.

Will you keep score at the basketball games? Yes.

Will you help with accreditation? Yes.

Will you be on the negotiations team? Yes.

I was already teaching English to seniors and juniors AND serving as the only academic advisor in our small high school. Those two responsibilities were already more than a full-time load, because I wanted to do the best possible job for our students–to help them achieve their vocational and college-related dreams.

To mix it up more, I was supposed to be writing. I’d had many books published by traditional publishers over the years–finding time on weekends and summers to meet deadlines and put together proposals for the next projects.

However, all the extras were sucking the creative life out of me. I was hiding, it seems, in the baggage of overtime, afraid that if I didn’t take on extra paying jobs, the bills wouldn’t get paid. In the meantime, though, I was dying creatively.

Two years ago I read about another person who hid out in the baggage. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king over Israel. This was initially in a private setting. Then when Saul was chosen publicly, he was nowhere to be found. Scripture tell us that when the people asked the Lord where Saul was, the Lord said, “He has hidden himself among the baggage” (1 Samuel 10:22).

I understood that I was doing the same–hiding out in fear amongst the comfort of my Baggage of Busyness, instead of stepping out confidently to pursue a full-time calling to write.

So, I retired from teaching two years ago. I had completed that calling. I’d done what I could to advocate for and develop an AP program for our small, rural school. I’d gotten a respectable contract and salary schedule for teachers. I’d contributed enough to the accreditation process.

I still have my fingers involved in our local high school. I do love scoring basketball, so I volunteer for the home games. It keeps me in touch with the kids and the staff. And it keeps me under control–I’m otherwise one of those crazy, screaming fans in the bleachers.

Perhaps you need to leave some baggage behind so that you can follow a dream or a calling. Here are some questions that might help you assess your load:

  • Are you working too much?

  • What job or responsibility could you give up and not miss a whit?

  • Could others do a job better than you?

  • If someone else did one of your jobs or responsibilities, would that help that person develop skills or character traits?

  • Could you downsize any of the following to free up time: your house, your car, your yard, your clothing, your stuff-of-life? If you have less, there’s less to maintain and make payments on.

  • Do you really have to rescue So-and-So every single time?

  • Are you getting quiet time for study and reflection? Where could you find time?

Was it worth it? Leaving the full-time job behind one-and-a-half years ago? Yes. My first novel for adults came out last fall. My twenty-second book is being released next week, and my twenty-third book comes out in June. And I’m writing under contract for another one.

So, what kind of baggage are you hiding in? Or carrying?

Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 23 books, with six on prayer, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What He Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today (Bethany House, June 5). Her life of teaching young people has found fruition not only in their success but also in a great gift book for high school and college grads: 50 Life Lessons for Grads: Surprising Advice from Recent Graduates (Worthy, April 2018). More about her books and speaking can be found at

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