Belonging Day 13: Not Without My Backpack

Belonging Day 13- Not Without My Backpack

This morning as I pulled up into my son’s school in parent drop-off lane, his laid-back demeanor shifted to panic.

“I forgot my backpack! And my folder!” His crystal blue eyes quickly filled with tears and as they started spilling, I pulled forward out of the drop-off lane and parked.

“Mom, please, we have to go back and get it.” His voice raising and the tears dropping to the floor.

I didn’t want to make the 10 minute trip back to our house so I knew I needed to talk him down. His backpack and folder isn’t integral to the purpose his day nor did not having it make him an outsider. His learning, friendships and overall experience would be unaltered. But without that backpack, he didn’t feel like that was true, he didn’t feel secure.

Most 5 year-olds like to follow the rules. They know what they’re supposed to be doing and in general, find great purpose in checking off those boxes. The procedures have been drilled into their brains and they lack that ability to roll with the punches, without feeling like they’ll somehow be reprimanded for unexpected scenarios.

“Honey, you still belong at school without your backpack. You can still learn, you can still play with your friends. If you have some papers at the end of the day, I will help you carry them out.”

You made me forget it.” Ahh, the great finger-pointing coping mechanism surfaced, showing me he wasn’t convinced.

Knowing I was about to be late for the next school drop-off at my daughter’s pre-school, I could feel my patience running thin. But then I saw how how his limited perspective reminded me of my own at times, I could identify just how he was feeling.

I have so many “backpack situations.” When life throws me a curve ball and I find myself without the things that make me feel secure; it is hard to convince myself in the moment that it will be o.k.

Right now, I’m without a lot of my “backpacks.” I am not working outside the home. We haven’t settled on a church. I don’t have the solid feeling of mutual need and trust that comes only with time in most of my friendships here yet. I haven’t lost the last few pounds of my baby weight and I don’t like my body.

I don’t feel like I’ll be in trouble like a 5-year-old, but I feel insecure, unequipped and many days, like I don’t belong in my current life situation. And like my son, it’s hard to imagine that my day will be o.k. without the things that make me feel secure.

As I walked him up to the school door this morning, I said I was sorry we forgot it and next time we’d work together to remember it. Then I asked if he wanted to pray.

“You do it, mom.”

I silently prayed for both of us to feel secure without the external things we feel we need.

When I picked him up, he was waving a bright red apple craft in his hand, signaling his day had gone on despite the morning snafu.

“Were you o.k. without your backpack?”

“Yes, it was fine. People in the hallway saw me without it but they didn’t say anything. Tomorrow we’ll bring it.” His panic had turned to nonchalance.

I’m glad his crisis abated quickly, I have a feeling my insecurity will linger awhile.

It’s hard to live without my backpack(s). Even as I’ve been pining for the external things that make me feel secure, I know in my head that those things won’t bring the security of trusting in God and his plan. Sometimes it just takes awhile it for that knowledge to get to my heart. There are days, even as Christians, where our human emotions seem to fog up the truth.

If I focus on what I don’t have, I know I will be stuck in the perspective of have-not. And that’s definitely a backpack I don’t want to carry.




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