I like boxes. Both literal and figurative boxes. Big or little, tall or short, colorful or bland. I am fascinated by boxes, they draw me in no matter where I am and I’m not really sure why.
I guess that’s partly why I’m not all that surprised that I often find myself living life from the inside of a box. I’m what some would call goody-two-shoes; I’m straight-laced, a rule follower, prim and proper and some might even call me a prude. Whatever you choose to call me I like to color within the lines, drive the speed limit (well I did before moving to Cali). I like things to be black and white, yes or no, right or wrong. I’m not a rebel without a cause and I really don’t like to rock the boat.
I tend to be boring, even sometimes to myself.
I live in a box of my own making. I give myself rules and guidelines to live by: You must succeed in school and at work. You must be the best person you can be in your relationships with your friends. You must keep your emotions in check and you must never fall apart. You must be sensible and reliable. Don’t push your wants, desires and even your love on others. Do not, above all, become too much for the people you care about.
These rules and guidelines soon become fears that hold me back. I don’t know how to dance and therefore I shy away from putting myself out there and learning how to dance. I don’t want to scare my family so I don’t do anything that could get me hurt.
Skydiving? Out of the picture! Sing in front of people? Oh no! I’m going to fail miserably, so why even try.
The funny thing is that I wasn’t always like this. In elementary school I didn’t care as much what people thought about me, it was important but I didn’t live constantly inside of a box that I had created. I used to sing loudly, even if it was off key, dance freely to the rhythm in my own head and laugh heartily when no one else was laughing.
At 17 I went to the lake with a friend’s family, a boy that I liked if you must know (isn’t it always?). At this point I was living in my box almost daily but for that moment in time a boy allowed me to step out of my box and just live. I’m not saying that it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done but… I ended up jumping off a bridge 50 feet into crystal clear freezing water. For those few minutes I was living outside my comfort zone, outside of my box and I trusted that the world wasn’t going to fall apart and I wasn’t going to die. It didn’t and I didn’t either.
But what has happened since? I have allowed my box to become ever stronger and more comfortable. I’ve decorated the outside and the inside so that no one can tell it’s actually a prison of my own making.
No more! I’ve decided to slowly but surely come outside of my box. To stretch, to grow and to learn what it means to truly live.
How? Simply by taking it one day at a time, not allowing myself or the world to put “expectations” on who I am or what I’m going to do; to challenge myself to do the uncomfortable. I’m going to learn how to dance the salsa. I’m going to someday skydive(!). I’m going to go out and have fun. Travel to places I have never been and do things that I have never done. Experience more and live fuller.
I know that I will always have a box and that’s okay. It’s a place for me to retreat, to analyze, to think and to plan. It’s a starting point that will keep me balanced and focused. But it will no longer be my prison. I’m going to live and experience all that God has created and is calling me to be. I allowed my fears and expectations to walk hand in hand for way to long; I’m going to grab a hold of my life now and find out what more is out there.
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a
spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Living life outside the box…not allowing the fears to take hold but understanding instead that God gives me power, love and a sound mind that is so much more than anything I could experience inside my box.
Outside the box….what does that look like to you?