Updated on January 23, 2017
What’s in Your Backpack?
This Zits cartoon describes the ups and downs of The Year of Not Being Nice. Standing up and breathing in the fresh air of freedom from lifelong habits of people pleasing. Then, weighed down again by fears of failure and rejection, pulled back by the opinion of people who don’t count and don’t care.
I feel like one of those foolish Galatians Paul scolded for grabbing back the laws and yielding to peer pressure instead of living out the freedom Christ died to give them.
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 The Message
When someone tries to re-harness me to my need-to-be-nice backpack or when I grab back the religious laws and expectations that enslave me, I need to hear Paul’s challenge to break free of backpack Christianity:
Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Galatians 3:5 The Message
This Year of Not Being Nice has forced me to unzip my stupid backpack and look inside. Mine is weighed down with those “moral strivings,” filled with fears of making people angry, loaded with guilt at never being enough, and riddled with resentment when no one notices my niceties.
What’s in your backpack?
People think that this year has been an exercise for a hunched-over, sniveling nice-addict to finally stand up for herself. No. It’s remembering Someone else stands for me.
It’s breaking the habit of bearing a weight that’s no longer mine, looking up, and again and again handing that backpack of laws and burdens to Jesus Christ who stood up for me at the Cross so I can stand in a faith that frees me from myself.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. Romans 5:1-2 The Message
What an unexpected gift it’s been to be free of a weight I could never carry and stand in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory. But out there with head up and arms outstretched, breathing the fresh, free air. . . .I still hear that familiar voice, “Dude, forget something?” and my shoulders start to slump and I have to fight not to grab back that familiar, stupid backpack.
Zits cartoon has been used by permission of King Features Syndicate. Bold highlights to Scripture added by author.