Emptying out my backpack

So first off, HI!


It's been a really long time since I last wrote. The last time I was here, I shared that I wasn't going anywhere physically, but I was going on a pretty intense mission.


And now I'm here, 61 ways later. I'm just over 60% of the way there, with one month left to go, and it has been AWESOME. I'm almost sorry to see that I have 29 days left!


As a recap, I've been doing a 90 day fast called Fiat 90, and I started on February 13.

It hasn't been the easiest thing. Putting aside the comforts that I rely on a regular basis has been a real test. It's shown me that these comforts aren't necessities. I thought for a long time that I needed Netflix, or Instagram, or eat a snack every hour of the day.


Once I was able to get out from behind these shells that I had been hiding behind, God was able to do SO MUCH in my life. Through two phases (representing the past two months), God really broke me down and helped me to get back up stronger than ever.

Month 1 - Taking out the "false" necessities

The first month of the fast was definitely hardest, but extremely fruitful. Within the first week, God taught me a lot about myself; namely, there were things that I clung to that I didn't need. And that weighed me down.


God gave me the image of a backpack that I was carrying on my back. As a student I was used to carrying a heavy backpack that had my laptop, my books, my food, and other things that I might need throughout the course of my day. But God showed me this image of me carrying a backpack that was heavy and filled with odd bulges. The bulges poked into my back, and the weight caused me to walk in a forward hunch.


He opened it up for me and showed me that there were all these rocks in them. The rocks represented different comforts that I had to give up through Fiat: social media, Netflix, alcohol, desserts and sweets, sleeping late. God bid me to dump these rocks out of my backpack. I suddenly became aware of how much of a burden these things were to me. Don't get me wrong: in moderation, these things are not inherently sinful. But I realized that I had let them get in the way of my relationships with others and especially God. When I made them a priority and put them ahead of prayer or the Mass, these rocks remained in my backpack, causing me ultimate discomfort as I journeyed.


With that first realization that I used these as crutches to fill my boredom, loneliness, and discomfort, I felt myself feel lighter as the days went on. After the first two weeks, these things weren't a distraction or a comfort anymore. My backpack was lighter, but there was still a weight to it.


Just when I thought I had acheived so much, the second month started with Ash Wednesday. And again, God was able to show me even more.

Month 2 - Emptying my backpack out entirely

So there I was on Ash Wednesday. I thought that through Fiat, I had already endured and learned so much. I thought, surely this Lent I'll be ready for anything.


But I wasn't ready for what God gave me. At all.


I had just received the ashes on my forehead. We hear every year on Ash Wednesday that the ashes represent the fact that we are nothing but dust, and to dust we shall return (see Genesis 3:19). It's a reminder of our mortality, and the fact that the day we pass away, we won't be able to take anything with us. We are called, therefore, to die to ourselves, and further, put to death all the sins in our lives to live a life of holiness.


I thought that I was doing pretty well so far with my giving up of Netflix and constant snacking (yay me!), and I'm sure God was proud of me. But God wanted even more from me.


So God showed me my backpack again, this time free of irregular bulges. But God bid me to look deep at the bottom of my backpack. And at the very bottom were some things that I had forgotten about.


You know how sometimes there are some perpetual tenants in your backpacks? Whether they are beat up books or a broken umbrella or a rotten apple that you keep meaning to eat, they take up space in your bag. It was as if God was nudging me, hey, take a look at *those* things. I think you need to deal with those.


But like a rotten apple or a beat up book, I had forgotten about them and didn't want to deal with them. Whatever was at the bottom of this backpack was ugly, disturbing, and I didn't want to worry about it now.


God, however, was persistent.


I looked, and what I saw made me wince. God showed me what stood between Him and I - perpetual impurity, manifested with impure thoughts, a lack of chastity, and soft core pornography. In my shame, I felt my head weighed down. I couldn't bear to look up at the father.


When I did, however, I could feel His loving gaze. He wanted to work with me to empty my backpack out entirely, and surrender everything to Him.


As I walked out of the church after mass, I realized that this big sin was there all along and totally unconfessed. But what distracted me from it were the little things that I continually used to distract myself from dealing with it. I had this conviction now to go to confession.


And cleaning out my backpack never felt so good.

Through this spiritual "spring cleaning" exercise with the Lord, I learned so much about myself and even more about His forgiveness and mercy. Once I emptied myself of these distractions and sins, I could focus more time and energy into growing my relationship with God, growing in holiness, and clearly discerning where He wants me to go.


This doesn't automatically make me holy - believe me, I'm still struggling with those lovely people who cut me off in traffic - but I know it's a start.


So long as we come back to the Lord with open arms, He can turn even the messiest of backpacks into something beautiful. He will purify us! As clean guru Marie Kondo says,

And so does our God, when we come back to Him with a heart ready to be purified by His love and mercy.


With the finish line in sight, I am confident that the next month will bring even more fruits, but will require even more sacrifice. But from here, I am certain of this: God has a plan for me, and I'm ready for whatever is next.


Whatever God calls you to surrender, I encourage you to walk through that with Him and empty out your backpack!

1. What are the "small rocks" in your spiritual backpack that God is calling you to sacrifice?


2. What are the things hiding in your backpack that you know you have to deal with, but you choose to ignore?



©2019 Rachel Wong.