I wrote my first parable. Here it is:
One day a girl, carrying a backpack, enters a coffeeshop. She notices an older woman is in line in front of her with a refrigerator tied to her back. The woman is struggling under the strain of it. It makes her frown and complain. She has a difficult time placing her order through gritted teeth and then is obviously straining to move down the counter to wait for her coffee. After placing her own order with the barista, the younger girl moves over to the woman who is now looking through the contents of her refrigerator exposing a stench from a collection of rotting food inside.
The girl begins breathing through her mouth so as not to gag and asks, “I know this may seem a little presumptuous of me but, why in the world are you carrying a refrigerator on your back?”
The woman replies, “Are you kidding? I’m the woman with the refrigerator! People everywhere know about me! It’s a part of who I am.”
“But it looks so heavy and not to be rude, but there really isn’t anything of value in it. It’s actually really sad to see all of that rotten food in there. I think there are other things you could be known for.”
“You’re young. You probably haven’t been through anything as difficult as me. You don’t understand what it means to live with humility. It means you lug around your burdens and feel their weight so that you never forget the things that are a part of you. They are a lesson that you should never forget.”
The girl sighs and takes off her own backpack and unzips it. She invites the woman to look inside. The woman looks down, feeling a little annoyed at being asked to do something else. But when she does, her expression quickly changes to shock. Inside of the backpack is an ocean liner. It’s bigger than the Titanic!
The woman asks the girl, “How, in God’s name, do you carry that huge thing around all the time?”
“Exactly,” replies the girl.
We all have a story. We all carry something really heavy. Sometimes we think we are being brave by holding onto it and refusing to let it go. Some of us have been holding onto things since childhood, an idea of who we are or a traumatic event we lived through. The weight of it often changes us and without proper healing, it can make us hardened, stubborn to accept the idea that we can be anything different than those things that we carry. We cope with it in a hundred different ways. It can manifest as addiction, anger, anxiety or depression.
But we are not meant to carry refrigerators on our backs! We can never erase things in our past. They’re there. But we don’t have to continue to carry the burden alone, either. Faith has healed so much in my heart. We are supposed to use that backpack of faith like a Mary Poppins carpetbag. Shove anything you want in there! Oh, it will be there if you really want to look at it, but don’t let its weight change your posture; we are not meant to live in the weight of our past. We are meant to live in the present and even though we carry our past, it doesn’t define us. It teaches us, but it doesn’t define us. You are not more humble by visibly wearing your past. You are not more loved by showing how much pain you can hold and how much it affects you. You are loved simply because you are, because you exist, because you are breathing and matter to others in this world. Your presence is the answer to someone’s prayer. Don’t ever forget that.