Have you ever carried a dead body? My goodness, I hope not. But what about a child who fell asleep on the couch or a frat brother who had a little too much to drink and passed out face-first in the toilet bowl? Most of us have carried “dead weight” at some point in our lives, so we know that it seems to weigh a whole lot more than “regular weight.” If that sleeping child was even half awake and not quite so limp, you could count on her to wrap her legs around your waist while you carry her to bed. If that frat brother wasn’t three sheets to the wind, you could probably throw his arm around your shoulders and ask him to put one foot in front of the other so you could get him home. You would still be carrying weight, but at least the burden would be shared.
What kind of dead weight are you carrying around right now? Some of us don’t even realize we are carrying it because we’ve gotten so used to the burden. Dead weight can come in many forms. It can be that really negative person in your life who doesn’t know how to find the silver lining in any situation. When you talk to her, you try to help her see the bright side of things, but she would rather complain and wallow. Maybe your dead weight is a long-distance family member who calls and talks about his own problems for 30 minutes straight and then says he has to go before it ever occurs to him to ask how you’re doing. Does your dead weight live in your own mind? Is it low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, addiction, doubt, or negativity?
I’ve been carrying all kinds of dead weight around for years. Some of my dead weight was people. There were some who never had anything nice to say and tried to create or perpetuate drama in every situation. They made me laugh from time to time and we had other friends in common, so I thought it just made sense to keep them around and not rock the boat. Others would run to me with every need or problem, knowing that I would stop what I was doing to solve their problem, meet their need, or just give them a shoulder to cry on. But when I had a need, they were too busy to help. I’ve pulled away from a lot of these people because I realized that they were dead weight and I refused to let myself carry them any longer. Some noticed, and some didn’t. I’m not mean to them…I have no reason to be. They are who they are and I can’t be mad at them for it. However, I do not need to allow them to have a place in my inner circle. That, my friends, has to be earned now.
I think the most dead weight I carried lived right inside my own head. I spent so many years trying to make other people like me that I never got to know who I really was. Instead of being me, I was the version of me that I thought everyone else wanted. Instead of knowing myself and owning my personality, I would adapt to whomever I was with at any given time. Because I had no idea who I really was, I lacked confidence. That constant second-guessing of myself – who I was, how I looked, what I wore, what I said, etc. – was enough dead weight to run me right into the ground. I was also a worrywart. I would worry about every detail in every situation, playing things out over and over again in my mind. It was only when I started going to church, reading the Bible and listening to a whole lot of Joyce Meyer that I learned to turn all my worries over to God and enjoy peace while He took care of the rest.
Getting rid of dead weight isn’t always easy. In many cases, you can’t just drop it because once you’ve been carrying it for a while, it becomes a part of you. You start to feel safe under the weight, and shedding it can feel pretty terrifying. The first step is to take a good look at your life and the people in it so you can identify your dead weight. After that, it’s a process and it takes some people longer than others to go through it. I know firsthand what it’s like to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that something or someone is weighing you down but be too scared of the unknown to do anything about it. The good news is that I got there. It took time and I changed my mind about 47 and a half times, but I finally got there…and when I did, I felt that weight lift right off my shoulders and the freedom was almost intoxicating. Now I'm ready to fly.