Something I repeatedly ask God to help me do is the whole, “love one another” thing. I know I shouldlove people and I want to love them but honestly, if you drive slow in the fast lane, mess with my kids or look at me wrong, well as my friend Elle puts it, I struggle with The Humans. But recently God has been answering my long-time prayer to love others but as usual, not in the way I wanted it answered.
When #MeToo became a thing, it wasn’t going to be my thing. Although I was a victim of sexual abuse as a preschooler, I can’t change that fact, rarely think about it and most of all, refuse to live or be seen as a victim. It was a one-time, unfortunate incident I’ve existed quite happily avoiding.
I’m currently in a discipleship group and it’s awful. I liken it to being the star on the show Naked and Afraid because that’s what divulging my struggles and fears feels like. But while sharing recently in the group, I realized although I’ve kept that awful childhood memory in a box, the contents of the box have impacted me negatively in ways God wants to free me from, so I’ve been praying through, reading Scripture over and thinking about “my box.” As unpleasant as that’s been, it has taught me something paramount.
We all have a box.
Your box is different from my box, is different from your husband’s box, which is different from that lady’s box who flipped you off on the freeway yesterday. Your box might be less egregious, a million times worse or maybe happened last week. I suppose I realized cerebrally everyone has struggles in life, but unearthing my box has taught me something I desperately needed to be reminded:
I don’t know.
I don’t know what your childhood was like, who hurt you or walked out on you. I don’t know the fears you’ve wrestled, pressures you faced yesterday or the trauma you endured growing up. For Pete’s sake, I don’t know how my forty-some-year-old box impacts me, so how can I know anything about someone else’s box? When I want to judge, criticize or get offended lately I hear, “I don’t know” and it’s softening me. Because just like you can’t judge, know or fix my box, I can’t judge, know or fix youor your box (and unfortunately, they’re a package deal).
My box is teaching me there’s a lot I don’t know. It’s teaching me because I don’t know anyone else’s hearts, hurts or hang-ups, I shouldn’t judge. It’s giving me compassion for The Humans who are unkind, I don’t understand and normally want to avoid. “I don’t know” fosters humility, empathy and love. It’s also teaching me although our boxes are an unfortunate by-product of sin in the world, in God’s economy our box doesn’t define, identify or impact our status children radically loved by Him.