I don’t know about you, but my wife and I love to travel, especially for short-term missions. We have traveled many times to Sri Lanka and India and it is the return home that is always the hardest part of the trip.

We spend nearly an entire day in the air and by the time we arrive home, we are exhausted. The last thing we want to do is unpack our bags and begin sorting laundry. But we have learned how important it is to get the dirty laundry out of those bags as soon as possible. If we don’t, smells from the places we have been begin to permeate everything in our bags, including the clean clothes we brought back. And, if a few insects have stowed away, they begin to multiply!

Relationships can be like traveling. We go off to experience the exotic location of a dating relationship or marriage, but something happens to cut that trip short. We find ourselves on a return flight to singlehood feeling tired and worn out from the journey we just ended. So what do you do with the baggage you accumulated along the way?

Ignoring Your Baggage

Every time we leave a relationship we take part of it with us – some good and some not-so-good. In fact, depending on the level of hurt, pain and loss experienced during the breakup of that relationship, some of what we bring with us can really sting. In some cases, we are so worn out from that relationship that we never even realize what got packed in our bags before the relationship ended.

Over time, that “dirty laundry” from your past relationship transforms from a little smelly into a foul stench, and the one or two things that have crept their way into the bags have now multiplied.

When the unpacked bags stay inside the closet where you keep your luggage, the only one really affected by them is you. The devastating part is when you get ready to travel again into a new relationship, you will most likely grab the bag from the closet without ever opening it and bring it with you – stench and all.

Unpacking Your Bags

We need to unpack our bags first and clean our dirty laundry before we embark on a new relationship.

What does that look like? The best place to start is to take the time to explore your past relationship and what you have packed away because of it. Identify the good and the not-so-good. With the not-so-good stuff, evaluate your role in it. Rarely is a breakup ever 100 percent one person’s fault. Everyone has a role and the goal is to determine what yours was.

Next, identify the hurts and pain that you may have experienced so that you can properly deal with those issues and get the appropriate kind of help if needed.

I have noticed that you can’t necessarily get your bags completely clean after a trip. That’s okay. I would never keep myself from taking another trip to Asia just because my bags were completely spotless. The goal here is not to have perfectly clean luggage but luggage that has been emptied of the dirty contents of trips past so that they can be cleaned and repacked for the next trip. Shirts may have holes, socks may be mismatched and jeans may be a bit too tight, but that’s alright! After all, you don’t have to look perfect to be ready for another adventure.

Have you unpacked your bags from your last relationship? To go into a new relationship with a fresh start, make sure you take time to assess your baggage and get ready for your next journey.

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