By: Danielle Calhoun
When I was a little girl, I’d spend nearly every Saturday visiting my aunt’s house. My mom is a hairdresser, so Saturdays were her busiest work day. This untraditional schedule often left my dad to fill in the gaps, meaning, ‘Let’s go hang out at Aunt Debbie’s’.
My cousin and I are eight months apart, so we’d typically play together, but were also drastically different. We fought like catty siblings, but every once in a while, by God’s grace, we would find a few spare boxes and create the most brilliant imaginary worlds. Imagine the most dilapidated hodgepodge of cardboard scraps taped together, colored on, and repurposed into something wildly unrecognizable – in a word…UGLY. These creative containers would take us all over the world and even further out into the universe until they couldn’t contain our ideas and adventures any longer and burst at the seams.
If we’re honest, our lives are full of boxes, aren’t they? Some boxes are productive and helpful, often easily accessible and open to add to, while others are taped tight, void of light, restricting, and hidden.
Boxes are great for storing: the sweetest memories, important dates, favorite smells, ever expanding wisdom on a variety of topics, the best pieces of our identity, goals, positive mindsets, hopes, and desires of our hearts.
Boxes can also store: divisive ideals, unwelcome labels, internal lies, deepest secrets, wounds, regrets, unconscious and conscious trauma, unhealthy coping mechanisms, triggers, contempt, unforgiveness, unresolved conflict, bitterness, misunderstandings, etc.
The Bible says when you enter into a life with Jesus, you are a new creation. The boxes you once resided in no longer limit and constrict you from loving others, yourself, and your divine purpose in Christ.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-20 NIV
As I contemplate all of the boxes I’ve tried to shove my perimeters for loving others, my faith, my beliefs, my understanding, and my God into, I am constantly being reminded He isn’t going to let that happen. In fact, I’m pretty sure the 'New Southern Living Translation' says, ‘No Ma’am. Did you read anything about My life? Boxes ain’t a thing anymore.’
Jesus is the ultimate box buster. He is shown tearing down boxes over and over again in Scripture. His birth story is a great place to start. Just think – the Maker of the universe came down to earth to be housed inside an unwed teen mother and born in the dirt.
FIRST BOX BROKEN.
Then you have all of His wild, counter-cultural selection of rag tag friends (a tax collector, fishermen, uneducated, poor, wealthy, sinners). He humbly engaged, welcomed, and served the people on the outside of society (untouchables, complicated, unlovable, outcasts) while also fearlessly walking alongside and engaging those most powerful within society (Roman guards, religious and political leaders). And let’s not forget the ultimate box breaking story – HIS DEATH, BURIAL, and RESURRECTION!
“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Matthew 28:6 KJV
HOLY BROKEN BOXES, right?!
Just when my finite mind begins to sit with the deep, reverent, loving, wild, transformative, creative, rule-breaking, inclusive nature of our amazing Creator, He keeps breaking more and more boxes within me, pivoting me deeper towards His limitless grace, trust, and love and laying me flat on my face in gutted humility.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
The past few years have been tough for many, but namely Americans. We are all coming to grips with an uncomfortable reality. We need to talk – all of us. Each one of us needs to reach out and be a reconciler, peace maker, bridge builder, and spewer of healing hope (not fear or hate).
To begin to heal what is broken, we must first acknowledge our individual tower of boxes and slowly begin to peel back the corners of tape that have prevented us from seeing the root/s of what is keeping us apart. My neighbor’s very soul was on Jesus’ mind the same time He died on the cross for me. When I consider all the boxes (labels) that have kept me away from loving another, I can get a bit overwhelmed. Differences in ideals like: politics, economy, environment, class, life, human rights, education, religion, injustice, science, loving too much, loving too little, truth too tough, truth too soft, what even is ‘true’, are just some on a list that can go on forever. There is a box for everything, and those boxes start stacking up and forming a barrier between you and the person on the other side of their own wall of boxes.
But God is the ultimate box tower demolisher!
The most brain breaking revelation came to mind as I sat with the idea of all the ‘boxes’ in my life: My amazing God is not in any box and, yet, equally in every box, all at once.
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV
The Jesus I serve is both infinitely expansive and uncontainable, while also intimately, humbly, inclusively, and lovingly available in every corner of our messy stories. Our finite minds can only wish to understand the complexity to which He has lowered himself to meet us where we are and love us through it all. This is what He has called us to do as followers of Christ – emulate a love that doesn’t make a lick of sense to the world around us. Thankfully, He has given us a box busting gift called the Holy Spirit. My humanness struggles to even grasp this reality and the priceless gift of access to the ever-present PEACE and TRUST and JOY via the Holy Spirit.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 NIV
So what boxes do you want to burst out of in your life?
If I’m honest, I want to be free from the boxes that keep me guarded from being present and loving others when times get tough. I want to walk around the inside of my soul’s storage unit, with Jesus’ light as my guide, and expose the dusty, dilapidated, and unhelpful boxes in the corners of my heart that store any contempt, bitterness, and unforgiveness. I want Jesus to rip the packing tape off the boxes that house my self-righteousness, gossip, and strife. But most of all, I’d like to break down the boxes that hide any secrets I haven’t been brave enough to bring out into the light yet, because boxes are GREAT at hiding stuff we don’t want exposed, which, in turn, hinders our healing.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
Luke 12:2-3 NIV
The only box I want to be contained by is the infinite container of God’s moving, transformational love and grace. May I be blessed enough to live in a world where Jesus has busted open all the other unhelpful boxes standing in the way of allowing me to uncontainably love and honor God and those around me.