There’s this box.
It might be your street, your neighborhood, your town or your city. It might be your family or your clique of friends. It might be your job or career. It might be your religion or spirituality. It might be your passions or interests. It might be the color of your skin, your gender or your economic class. And it might be a mixture of all of those.
You’re in a box. You’ve created it. You sat down inside and rested the lid on the top.
It feels so safe in there.
You filled your box with those people that are like you. People that agree with you. That have the same beliefs and opinions. The same interests. The same career path. The same energy. You talk alike, dress alike, look alike. Sometimes you even have names for yourselves. It really is so nice inside.
Wait a second…
Someone has an opinion that differs from yours? Close the lid tighter. Someone doesn’t want to take up the same activity as you? Tighter. Someone doesn’t fully support the path you’re currently choosing? Keep closing it.
We keep them out. We push them out. We feel so comfy. We stay so one-sided.
Uh oh. Then someone in your box changes? It feels almost like chaos erupting. But the easiest thing to do is to push them out of the top. Lid closed. No longer welcome. Whew.
It seems like the light is shining bright all around you. You want to be a light and spread it to others. You have great intentions and your attitude and energy are awesome. You shine. But guess what? There’s a lid. It’s sealed. Your light may be shining, but only within your walls. You don’t even realize it.
You think you’ve got it all figured out. Those that sit on the outside of the box are the ones that are wrong. You judge them. You don’t want to. You know you shouldn’t. But you do. Your ego says your way is the best way. Your way to the top is the right one. Your religion is a better one. Your way of thinking is right. The color of your skin is better. The political party you are a part of is the only way.
You’re wrong. I’m wrong.
You know, we all have a box that we put ourselves in. Maybe a few of them. I think it’s pretty normal for all of us. Some of our boxes are made of paper and some of them are made of steel. Only you know what your walls are made of and how tight your lid is on.
I’m sharing this story of this box because this has been my life for many years. I am only speaking openly, honestly and transparently to you because this was me. Many of you, I shut out. Many of you, I pushed out. It felt comfy being in there with those that I chose. It really did. I loved those people with all of my heart. I still do. But here’s what happened. I’ve allowed my steel walls to turn to plaster and then to cardboard and then to paper. The lid released from the top. The paper sides started burning. And the light that was trapped began to shine brighter. I was curled in a ball inside of that box, going along with the motions for quite some time. But as the walls came down, my arms and legs stretched out wide. I reached out the top. And the light… Oh the light…
“I feel like I know you again… my friend is back!” said one of my dearest friends recently. Someone that I wanted to be close to me so badly it hurt, although I had no idea that I what I had actually done to push her away.
It’s not just that one friend. It’s many. I have spent months healing from the damage that I did in some of my relationships, when I didn’t even realize at the time how much damage I was doing. I’ve reconnected and reengaged in friendships that were so special to me. Thank God, they have opened their arms and said something similar – ‘I’m so glad you’re back’. Each time this has happened I have been more and more enlightened. To who I was. To who I am. To who I want to be.
The people that have just met me in the past 6 years of my life don’t know the person that I was before. You met or came to know a different version of me. Something that I allowed someone else to create. So much of that ‘new me’ is good and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned a lot and changed in good ways. But there was much of the ‘old me’ that was good too that I let go. So it may be hard for you to get what I’m saying if you haven’t known me long. But if you have, I think you know. You’re shaking your head. YES. Exactly.
It’s interesting to me also to see reactions of others as my walls came down. Those that were in the box that stuck with me. Loved me anyway. And those that haven’t. Those that really are trying so hard and maybe I’m the one that is struggling through it. Maybe it feels like I’m pushing people away, but actually, I’m just trying to figure out how to get all of my worlds in the right balance.
I think we will all continue in our boxes to a certain degree. It is normal and real life. And I think it’s a constant battle. But we can be better people if we are more aware of what we have created and continue to create in the future.
You see, the bottom line is, we can’t be LOVE, we can’t truly be the LIGHT that God wants us to be, if all we see is what we’ve created. We just can’t. We can’t teach our children to accept differences – rich, poor, black, white… if we stay confined within our walls, within our towns, within our cities, within our cliques, within our workplace. There’s a world out there that needs us. That needs our love. That needs our friendship. Regardless of our own paths and beliefs. Yes, we have those. Certainly. And not everyone is going to like yours. So what. Love them anyway.
You think your light is shining as bright as it can. I thought mine was too. But in reality, I had put out a lot of flames in my path in order for mine to shine brighter. Come along or stay behind, but if you stay behind, bye bye, get out of my box because I’m moving right along without you. If you have said this, if this is you. Stop it. It hurts.
For years I have quoted others and I have said myself, ‘Relationships aren’t something, they are everything.’ Oh wow, how I agree. But how blind I was as to what was going on around me.
God is LOVE. LOVE DOES. We can’t DO and BE all that God wants if we don’t take off the lid and let the walls come down, or at least expand them a little bit.
“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” F Scott Fitzgerald
(Thank you to my friend, Lori, my Southern cousin, for your wisdom and inspiration for this post. For allowing me to see it a little different).