It’s the time for New Year’s resolutions, and while there are many I should be making (concerning exercise, especially), I’m going to limit myself to one, far reaching as it is: get rid of the boxes.
But these boxes will actually be easier to manage than the metaphorical boxes I really have to address this year. Over the past month and a half, I realized that I need to get rid of the many boxes I have created or inherited that limit me, confine others or misrepresent the world and God. It’s embarrassing, but I probably have way too many of them that I’ve been lugging around, from home to home, year to year. In some ways, they have been convenient because to unpack them would reveal a major mess that needed attention. But mostly, they have been a burden I didn’t realize I was still carrying.
I have a whole set of boxes that I put myself into–or perhaps keep myself in. Many come from childhood. They are the “You Are Not Good Enough,” “You Can’t Do Anything Right!” and “You Should Be Seen but Not Heard.” The labels run like an old mix tape through my mind on a daily basis, so familiar that I default to singing the tunes in times of stress. Inside some of these early boxes are smaller, later ones with great power: “You Look Awful,” “You Always Say the Wrong Thing,” “You Don’t Deserve That (Good Thing).” They weigh a lot, but I’ve gotten so used to carrying them that I don’t realize what I’m doing.
Other boxes are the ones I’ve put people in–boxes that say, “He’ll Never Change,” “She’s the Problem,” and “They are Never Going to Like You.” It’s not a stretch to see that these are, also, really boxes about me and my challenges. And they don’t serve a useful purpose, but I carry them around as well, another load on my heart.
But the most destructive boxes I carry about needlessly are the ones that attempt to limit God and the world God created. These boxes suggest that I know exactly how God will act, and I understand exactly how the world works. Do I really need to say that usually, these boxes are large enough to contain all the other boxes, yet they are far too small to really contain God or the created world?
Why it’s taken me so long to realize my problem with these boxes is a good question. I’ve been aware of many of them off and on for many years, but only lately have I recognized the way they are interconnected and the extent of the burden they are to my daily life.
And truth be told, I only became aware of some of these boxes when I saw them (and judged them) being carried around by other people. I was sitting there in a self-righteous funk, bemoaning the state of our national politicking, readily identifying the way that “other” people were limiting themselves by putting God and other people in boxes, when I realized that I was no better. And, to paraphrase Matthew 7:5, I’d better deal with my own issues before I start preaching about anyone else’s.
So, it’s time–more than time–to deal with the boxes. It’s time to unpack them, sort through the jumble of misguided beliefs, old hurts, leftover sticks and stones. It’s time to heal and clean up the clutter that trips me up. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s time.
So, what do you think? Do you also have boxes to get rid of? Any good ideas about how to do so? And just a note regarding this page’s format: I’ve spent too long trying to modify the font size on the picture captions, all to no avail. It’s driving me crazy–perfectionism, or the need to strive for it, once again rears its ugly head but is frustrated. And yes, that is another box I carry.