I’m not sure how these things come to me, but when they do I have to pay attention. Usually, when something hits me like this - a phrase, an idea - it’s simple. The earth does not quake or an alert does not come across my cell phone. It just sort of pops in my head, with a supercharged clarity, not like a normal thought.
Such was the case with the phrase “No more boxes.” It hit me during the night, waking me up. And, for the next several hours, it did not leave my spirit. Each awakening brought a new insight.
Surely, this time of year we all need boxes. Wrapping and mailing and doing what the season calls us to do as we make merry and spread Christmas cheer. We’re either in short supply, reusing, or running off to buy more. Funny how such a commodity waxes as wanes. Come January, we will likely not think of our need for them again until next year at this time.
But the kind that I am referring to here is different.
Have you ever noticed the boxes that we think define who we are? We put ourselves in them - confining our roles, our purposes, our intentions into neatly compartmentalized segments. We are moms, wives, exes, friends, daughters, teachers, nurses, … We have self-concepts of ourselves, and of how it is that we affect others within these roles. Hopefully, we see these as positive.
But what happens when our boxes - our roles - become stomped on, changed, ripped apart by some event or trauma? What happens when we lose a relationship, a job, a career, and all that is left is our scattered identity that we feel desperate to mend?
What happens when it is our first — or second, or third — Christmas, and the “boxes” around our tree no longer have the names that we still hold dear but have no physical bond to? Death, separation, breaches of trust and betrayal…. Hurts and heartaches all have tags on them, but are hard to wrap. These are difficult, cumbersome realities for many of us who long for healing.
What I believe was the message of my midnight revelation, is that God does not want us to be so confined by what was. What He has for us, what He is bringing us to, is greater than our old boxes could contain. In fact, He wants us to think beyond our “used to be’s” and believe that He is bringing us to new — opportunities, relationships, and restorations — that are not specified by dimensions we have possibly ever known.
God wants us to think outside the box. To expect bigger, better gifts of His mercy, His grace, His healing.
How can this be?? All I know is that we are not to stay in our seasons of mourning. We also are not to limit God in what He can and will do. The gifts that He has for us are tied up in the Faith that what He is bringing is better.
I know the tendency we have to look down at our feet, to hold within our self-concepts all the broken boxes, things that did not work out as we hoped. We hold an imagined scale that weighs all the broken relationships, dreams that never quite materialized or were taken from us, job losses, illnesses, friends or family for whom we carry burdens for, and we wonder at the condition of our lives.
God wants us to lay all of these at his feet. He wants us to not be defined by our brokenness, but to see what He will do with it. He wants us to look up and to expect to see His hand healing us, redefining our purpose, and creating new possibilities that are more than we can hope for or imagine.
I realize that all of this is easier said than done.
I don’t know all that my tomorrows will bring. I have work to do when it comes to letting go of certain things and people that have hurt me in the past, those I’ve loved and lost, and all my shortcomings. All I know is that I am ready to no longer be defined by them. I am expectant that God is mending me, changing me, and has plans for me.
I pray that for all who are reading this, that your Christmas is Merry and Bright. I pray that among the gifts that you receive this year, that Hope, Peace, and Healing are among them in abundance. This is why God sent His son to us.
He is calling us to Believe.
No more empty, broken boxes, my friends. Let’s lay them at His feet and be wrapped in the Promise that He is making all things new.