Dear Keepers of the Status Quo;
Please accept delivery of your box.
I am finally returning it. After all these years, I’ve decided that it’s just no use. I cannot do it. I cannot live inside the box you sent me anymore.
I really tried to make it fit. Really I did. I was so deeply in love with you. But what does a child know about real love? I thought the only way to win your affection was to fit in the box you sent. So the day it arrived, I jumped inside. Instantly, I discovered my hips were a little wide and my teeth somewhat crooked. My hair fuzzed out and I could only sing off key. Your box was never really made for me.
Turns out, the box you sent was stamped “perfect fit only”.
I guess the perfect fit inside comfortably. The rest of us with our unsightly flaws and mediocre abilities rub and chaff against the sides. Every time I moved, I jostled and bumped against the corners. Constantly reminded of my imperfection.
The only way to cope was not moving at all.
I was younger then. I got confused. I mistook not moving in an ill-fitted box as “fitting in”. At first it was hard to be quiet inside the box you sent. But I loved you so. I longed to be with you. Even if I had to live inside a box. So, I learned to be quiet. I learned to be still. To not call attention to the corner of the box that bulged or the lid that popped up when I sneezed. I thought this would please you.
I waited patiently for you to notice how well I was doing at living inside the box you sent.
But you didn’t notice anything about me. Unless part of me inadvertently squeezed out of the box. Then you might lash out in distain. Or laugh in disgust. But mostly, my existence went unacknowledged. And inside my ill-fitting box, I was wondering. Is this what I wanted? To hold space inside a box?
While inside your box, I noticed how little room there was for anything new. The box you sent was a mighty tight fit. It pinched my off my dreaming. Stunted my curiosity. It gave me indigestion. And amnesia. Gradually, I started to forget that I was a person living inside a box and not the box itself.
In one last attempt to win your love, I slipped out of my box. To stretch. To exercise. To work on my blemished parts. Older and wiser, I knew I could never fit inside the box you sent unless I worked on the bulging and sneezing and all the other things that didn’t fit just right.
It felt great to be outside my walls. To breathe the air. To feel the grass. But then, when I saw you coming, I would scramble back inside. Hoping you’d see how nice I fit. “Look at me!” I’d shout from inside the box. You must not have heard me. The box muffled my voice.
Then a funny thing happened. With every foray out of the box you sent, the return trip was ever more uncomfortable. I couldn’t find any resting position. I felt the smallness of the space so much more than before. After living inside your box so long, I had no idea how dangerous climbing out of the box could be.
And then one day, I couldn’t fit back in your box at all. Not even my toe. I have simply outgrown the box you sent me. At first, I was somewhat dismayed because the box felt like home. But the air was fresh and the flowers were lovely. Time passed. And now I can’t even remember why I ever climbed in the box you sent in the first place.
For a while, I left the box lying around. I was busy. What with the bulge now a bump and the sneeze now a wheeze. Here in the open, I’ve stayed the same while changing so much. I’ve discovered that outside the box, I am what I am, not what I am not.
I’d almost forgotten about you and your box. But today I noticed a child looking at the box in the corner. A lovely child with a beautiful voice and wildish hair. And her eyes filled with something new. A strange longing for you.
And suddenly I saw the box you sent me for what it is. A dream-squeezing, people-pleasing, difference-loathing, ridicule-loving, standard keeping jail-in-a-box. The box was never a gift of love. Real love never involves box dwelling.
So am returning this box to you post haste. I’m sorry I ever accepted it. It took me a while figure it out, but now I’m going to dance with girl who has wildish hair and every wonderful, outlandish, unusual, and uniquely imperfect person I meet.
And hopefully, we will all be too busy celebrating with our feet in the grass and our face in the sun to ever accept delivery on a mysterious box that says, “If you want me to love you, first climb inside.”
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Finally Out of Junior High
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