Good old boxes! You can fill them with Christmas gifts to send off to friends and family, or anticipate their arrival with UPS. In Alaska we stuffed them full of groceries and used them as checked baggage on our return flight to our isolated village. And you wouldn’t believe what other items we managed to stuff into boxes and get on that plane!
Good old boxes! Sometimes we fill them with precious memories or records, to keep in a safe place. Or we use them for storage. And soon we’ve piled up too many to keep just in case, and are tearing them down for the recycling bin. But sometimes they’re recycled into hiding places for things we just don’t want to deal with.
We stuff them full, label them and pack them away, and never look inside again. Then one day we feel brave enough to peek inside, and find we are still overwhelmed with the things we couldn’t part with. So back goes the box, (perhaps now twice the boxes but better labeled), to take up even more space with the rest of that valuable junk and unwearable clothes, and boxes filled with file folders of old ideas never revisited.
What to hang unto and what to let go of?
We human beings are good at boxing things up and storing them away, even in the corners of our hearts and minds. But those things boxed up inside of us are often made up of more serious stuff than our boxes of ancient videotapes, old pots and pans, and irreplaceable junk.
A box full of grudges lies easily within reach, a box full of unresolved grief is almost hidden, and a box packed full of anger and resentment lies on the back shelf, ready to break from the weight. Hurts and pain are thrown together in another box. And it may be too overwhelming to drag one of them out, open it, and try to deal constructively with its contents. So the box sits there for years, untouched, though the contents remain — and they continue to claim their space in our lives.
Maybe it’s time to get rid of the pile of old hurts and resentments we have boxed up. Maybe it’s time to finally make our way to that old box buried in the corner of the closet, sort through its contents, and decide how much is really worth holding onto and taking up healthy space in our lives.
Yes, bad experiences can’t just be thrown out with the trash and forgotten, and our feelings are real. Grief may get easier but never be gone, and forgiving doesn’t have to mean forgetting the wrong done, even though it is healing for the forgiver and forgiven.
But pouring out the contents of those boxes and giving up what we can to God will lighten the load. It will help free us from all the clutter. And it will leave more space within us to store up God’s blessings of health and wholeness and peace.