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THE BOX

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tumblr_mb0yhmlvIW1qzx5hdo1_500[1]I recently had to move some of my furniture and odds and ends from my brother’s garage to a storage unit. Having dumped it back in March, I wasn’t exactly sure what awaited me.

A couch

A TV cabinet

A dresser

The box

You know, THE BOX. The one you store your ticket stubs, Valentine’s cards, and sweet notes in after a breakup. The place where pictures go from frames, to a stack, and ultimately to their final resting place inside THE BOX. THE BOX gets shoved in the back of the closet where no one, including you, can see it.

As my brother, Matt, carried it over, he took one look at the pink hearts on the outside and asked, “Why not just toss it now?”

I really wanted to. I did. I did not want to take THE BOX with me to my next destination and have been happily free from the person’s face and handwriting lurking inside for some time. But….since I couldn’t remember the exact contents of THE BOX, I thought I needed to go through it. Peering in the lid, I discovered I hadn’t used THE BOX solely for the relics of a bad relationship. In the rush of moving I had thrown in my ihome and a few other random items. Knowing my dad and brother were waiting on me, I figured this wasn’t the time to sort out THE BOX. Isn’t this the kind of thing you do in your bedroom with sad music playing or something?

“Ugh. I’ll deal with it later at home” I told Matt.

Once everything was loaded, I drove my friend Tony’s truck while my dad and Matt followed. I looked to the front passenger seat and saw that someone had put THE BOX up front. Awesome.

“What are you doing here?” I muttered to it. Didn’t THE BOX know it wasn’t meant for the light of day, much less shotgun?

13581236346451970_AYeBCMCI_c[1]We arrived at the storage unit and the guys started unloading while I signed paperwork. Noelle and Kathy, the friendly employees, greeted me with mass amounts of small talk. Eventually one of them asked me why I was storing.

Oh, it’s one of those, is it?

Sabotage conversations. The kind you get sprung on you while trying to do normal things. Ex) doctor’s office: “When did you last have sex? Are you in a relationship?” Verizon Wireless: “Have you heard of our family plan? Isn’t there someone you could sign-up with??”

Why am I storing? Why is my life not together in such a fashion that I don’t need to shove it in some 5×7 unit? Well…given that THE BOX was fresh in my mind I wanted to blame my ex, an unattractive habit that springs up now and again. I blame THE BOX. Vicious cycle.

I figured they didn’t want to hear that. Noelle (male) was wearing a Santa hat and two, not one, but two, earrings with dangling Christmas ornaments. I didn’t want to ruin his jolly mood so I smiled and muttered something along the lines of “guy’s suck.” Kathy loves it. She says it’s their mother’s fault. I love it.

I went upstairs to help with the loading. Once the big stuff was in my dad and brother went downstairs to get the last load. When they came back up I noticed THE BOX was not with them. I wondered how that conversation went down and was glad Matt had to explain my box instead of me.

Finally it was time to return the truck keys and be done. I hopped in the driver’s seat and saw that it was literally just THE BOX and me in the car. I swear it was mocking me.

I got to my friend’s house, parked, and began walking down the street… carrying the damn BOX like a sick present to return the keys. How was something I foolishly thought I could privately hold on to now publicly on display for my friend’s and family to see? I hate THE BOX! I hate THE BOX!

Embarrassed, me and THE BOX rode in the backseat of my dad’s car like five-year-olds to go to lunch. Again, I wondered what my dad thought of my BOX.

111182684522100913_qeQiVzS2_c[1]I was pretty frustrated with myself by the time we reached the restaurant. While my dad ordered, my brother and I sat opposite each other at the table as my tears threatened to spill over. Matt took one look at my face and says, “Forget this. I’m throwing away THAT BOX! You don’t need this.”

Just like that, he jogged to the car, grabbed THE BOX and dumped it. Right there, in the restaurant trash can.
Love guys, so rational.

He had to go back and dig out my ihome, but other than that, I was free.

That stupid BOX. That stupid boy. Why had I held on to either one of those? Matt was right, I didn’t need it. All day I just kept thinking, why didn’t I throw that crap away a year ago?

Was it because I wanted to reminisce? Not particularly. Was it because I was hoping to get back together? Not a chance. Do I care about the items inside? No. So why, then?

The truth is, I was just avoiding the situation. I simply didn’t want to deal with it. Yet, had I just handled my business the first time, THE BOX wouldn’t have haunted my moving day. The whole ordeal would’ve been entirely avoided. Also, my holding on to THE BOX represented what I’d done wrong in the relationship… God, you’re super funny with this whole BOX day…I’m getting the picture. I held on to someone I shouldn’t have because I was afraid you wouldn’t provide someone better.

My friend Katy told me once that every time she’s broken up with someone, she has upgraded while her ex downgraded. I laughed and had to admit she was right about her own life, was unsure it would play out in mine….until it did. The one person I’ve dated since was an absolute upgrade in every way. Why had I doubted?

195484440045040489_UDD8JG1E_c[1]The whole experience has me wondering if there are other places I am doing this in my life.

Where else am I avoiding something I should take care of now?

What things have I convinced myself are private but are actually one situation away from a public debut?

Where am I clinging to less than God’s best for my life out of fear?

These are the places where sin has great opportunity to grow. Things like avoidance, laziness, fear, and a desire to control can hide out and stay around awhile. We don’t notice anything is wrong because they are often wrapped up in small things that aren’t inherently bad, like my BOX. A narrow definition of sin allows us to make deals with ourselves like, “Later. I’m waiting for the right time. It’s not that big of a deal…it’s just a few memories…a small habit… a little too much food…a love of things…a realtionship that needs to end….one that needs to mend….a website….bitterness I can’t let go of…I need to do things my way”

We shove these small items into BOXES in the back of the closet only to end up carrying them around later, often publicly. We make today’s problem tomorrow’s.

It’s fine I still had THE BOX, but it wasn’t good for me and there’s a difference. I don’t want to give past burdens space in next year’s closet. No more carrying around a BOX full of things that weight me down or hold me back or from what God is calling me to. What about you? Do you have a BOX?

This morning I find myself very thankful for God’s grace. My closet is full of this kind of stuff and He is mercifully patient about it. He doesn’t give up on me when I cling and petition to keep items out of fear and distrust. He helps me get better at tossing things out. He’s given me the kind of friends and family that will say, “Forget this! You don’t need it” when I can’t do it for myself.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.

The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:7-14

**PS I’m accepting dating applications for Matt. Email to Olivemepost@gmail.com.


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Waiting

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One of my favorite Christmas decorations is the Advent Calendar. Growing up, our family had one shaped like a chimney with a Santa on top. Each “brick” had candy in it and my brothers and I would rush home from school and wait for my mom to give the green light. Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming” and it refers to a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the birth of Christ. I guess those tiny chocolates were meant to help us wait out the time before the big day.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting. Most of us are waiting for something: a vacation, a baby, a test result, a job, a relationship, recovery, forgiveness. It’s hard to wait. It’s even harder wait expectantly and prepare for something you’ve never seen work out. As grown-ups, there is no countdown. No guaranteed outcome. No candy to help along the way. There’s just waiting.

My wise and thoughtful friend Crissy and I met up for coffee a few weeks ago and we talked about this waiting business. We both agreed it can be painful, annoying, and frustrating at times. (Ok, mostly I was saying that. She’s a better person in general) Crissy, knows a bit about waiting, specifically waiting to meet the right person.

She told me that when she turned 35, she started looking at waiting differently when she noticed that waiting is, and always has been, a part of God’s people. It’s who we are. We have always been waiting for something: delivery from Egypt, the Promised Land, the Messiah, the return of Christ. Crissy said she believed God was actually interested in making her good at waiting. That realization helped her learn how to wait with hope, expectant of God’s goodness in her life.

I admitted to her that sometimes I hate hope. Hope gets your hopes up. When it doesn’t work out, you have a fall that you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t hoped in the first place. Maybe it’s better to just take what comes? Crissy just smiled and said that reminded her of a verse from Zechariah (b/c she is that cool, and can bust out Zechariah. What?!?!) and it says:

Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will
restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12

I’ve thought a lot about that strange phrase, “Prisoners of hope” since that day. I take it to mean that when we follow Jesus, there comes a point when we can’t get away from hoping in Him. The truth is, even if I wanted to stop hoping, I couldn’t because I know Jesus and I know Him to be terribly good and reliable. It’s too late. I can’t stop hoping. I’ve experienced too much of His kindness to deny that He has my best in mind whether it feels that way or not. Deep down, I expect Him to come through in the way that He sees is right. I’m hope’s prisoner.

Crissy also serves as a living reminder of what it looks like to prepare while waiting. She founded and runs Mika, a non-profit community development organization that identifies and equips leaders already living in low-income neighborhoods to effect the changes their community needs. Through relationships, Mika helps these leaders identify, design, fund and manage the initiatives the residents want to see happen. Mika also has a number of youth programs ranging from access to arts, to surfing, to academic tutoring; all of which gives kids access to healthy role models. If you want more info on volunteering or giving to Mika, click here.

I should also tell you that Crissy didn’t wait to meet someone in vain. I had the honor of attending her wedding to Moses a couple of weeks ago and it was truly a holy and joyful day. It was hands down one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to. Complete with a live band and pinatas! More importantly, it was beautiful to watch two people who love the Lord with their lives join each other in bringing healing and restoration to the world.

Whatever you are waiting for this year, I pray you are a fellow prisoner of hope, waiting expectantly on the God who never fails and is always good. There’s no countdown per say, but He’ll show up in the right way at the right time. Remember that waiting is part of who we are and God can use this time to make us better waiters. Lord knows I need the practice….

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24


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