I had the opportunity to go to the annual conference of AASECT, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists in Austin, TX this past weekend. I had a great opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, meet new ones, and expand my knowledge within the wonderful field of sexuality. I observed many things at the conference, but before I could even get off the airplane in Austin, God provided yet another opportunity for me to learn something by watching simple things I tend to take for granted.
My plane arrived in Austin, TX after a pretty decent flight and as we sat on the tarmac for a moment, I could feel the temperature from outside and tried to prepare myself for the heat I would soon experience. I had a window seat, as I usually do, and was just sitting there, watching as crewmembers on the tarmac unloaded our plane’s luggage. There was nothing special about it until it clicked in my head that they were less than careful with the bags. They’d grab them and just kind of toss them into the trams they use to transport the bags from the plane to the baggage claim area. I made myself look away, thinking that if I don’t watch them throw my bag, I won’t get an unnecessary attitude. However, I couldn’t help but watch them. And I mean they were throwing these bags. It didn’t matter what kind of luggage it was: Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, or my bright pink set I got from Macy’s several years ago. Hey! That’s my bright pink suitcase! I’m thinking that maybe they won’t throw it. ….but they do. They just throw it like it did something wrong to them. And I noticed my bright pink suitcase was a bit dirtier than when I checked it. Hmph. At least my luggage arrived in Austin the same time I did.
So what’s sexy about folks throwing my suitcase? Nothing. But it does make me think about sex.
I didn’t date a whole lot. I had one serious boyfriend in high school and one in adulthood that will become my husband in about three and a half months. However, I did have “friends.” Y’all know what “friends” are, especially the type that are in quotation marks. I had a few undefined relationships that weren’t necessarily good for me, but I don’t regret them because they taught me valuable lessons about myself and my luggage. No, not baggage, but luggage.
I thought about how the luggage and handlers stood as metaphors for something deeper. Often, we enter (and remain in) undefined relationships where we are not clear of our expectations. Do I feel everything needs a label? Absolutely not. However, I do think it’s important that boundaries and goals are set and shared if a relationship, undefined or otherwise, is to flourish. What am I saying here?
To me, the luggage symbolizes your body, your temple. It houses the Holy Spirit and hopefully the Word in your heart. However, if you let just anyone handle it, they may not do so with care. Does that mean that every person is the boogeyman and we should put up brick walls? No, no, no. That’s definitely not what I’m trying to convey. But it does mean that you should be careful about who you let handle your luggage.
What I realized is that the crewmembers had no investment in my bright pink suitcase. They didn’t know (or care) who I was and, therefore, weren’t really concerned about carefully handling my bag, keeping it nice and clean. Their job was to just unload it from the plane, and load it onto the tram. It was hot outside and they were just doing their job, so I’m not mad at them and I promise, I’m over it. BUT, they illustrated how we sometimes put our most valuable possession in the hands of people who don’t have our best interest at heart.
Like I said, they weren’t more careful with the Louis Vuitton luggage than they were with the Target specials. And sometimes, we can’t help if we accidentally choose the wrong luggage handlers. However, I’ve learned that people will treat you how you allow them to treat you. If you notice that someone is not fully vested in you and you want a deeper relationship, stop giving them your most sacred being. It’s okay to walk away when you see that something isn’t working. It’s even better to do so before they throw your luggage and possibly damage something. Once a suitcase is damaged, sure it can be patched together with duct tape (because it fixes everything), but it’s never the same. Stepping outside the metaphor, once you allow someone into your sacred space, a little bit of them is left behind. Sure, you can cleanse yourself of their “handprints” but that’s a process that probably won’t be quick and easy. Anywho, just be careful out there girls and boys. Don’t be so cautious that you’re a closed fist, but in being open, test the spirits to see whether they are from God. And even if they are, make sure you give your luggage to the right one; lost luggage is horrible to deal with.
I Corinthians 6:9 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Do you not know that your body is the temple of The Spirit of Holiness who dwells within you, whom you have received from God, and you are not your own?
I John 4:1 (God’s Word Translation)
Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world.