The YOU-Box


One of the funniest things about working in elementary education, is the look on a second graders face when they see you away from school. Whether walking through Target, pumping gas, taking a stroll in the park, or just mowing your own yard, it’s the same response. Their eyes light up! “Mr. Murphy! What are you doing here?” As to say, “I left you at school! No way you could’ve escaped!” The funniest part of the whole exchange, is the next school day. They walk up to you and say, “I saw you at (where ever, doing what ever).” I’m convinced, they are just testing me to see if the person they saw, where ever, doing what ever, was actually me. 

I always respond, “I know … I was there!”

I don’t really remember what I thought as a second grader, so I’m not sure if they actually think teachers live at the school. The issue here, is seeing a person outside of the understood context. After several weeks of only knowing one dimension of a person, it can be mind-blowing to see another side.

Whether you know it or not, people have a “YOU-Box.” You have been pack neatly inside, with no room to add anything else. A “YOU-Box.” Once you’ve been packaged, then the “YOU-Box” is sealed, and double sealed again. This makes it easier to label and categorize. Once the “YOU-Box” has been definitively labeled and categorized, you are then put on the mental shelf, and there is where the “YOU-Box” will stay.

So you can imagine the amazement when someone sees you outside the “YOU-Box.” You were packed up, and stored away. You aren’t supposed to be here, doing this. It doesn’t match your label or your category. You see, it’s not just second graders who have trouble seeing people outside of their prescribed context.

Don’t ever get discouraged, because someone can’t seem to accept a different side of you. Once you have been securely packed and labeled, it becomes a process to repackage you; and everyone isn’t willing to do the work. They would just rather keep you in their “YOU-Box.”

My only advice to you is to be gracious to them. Give them whatever time they need to accept this version of yourself. You don’t have to reduce yourself to their one-dimensional view of you, because you were never meant to be contained. God created you to grow, and never become stagnant. His desire is for you to be transformed, continually; so there is not a box that can stop that. Just treat them like the cute little second grader, laugh it off, and keep going.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your life and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so (boxed in with) your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message Bible, by Eugene Peterson).

© 2016 Derek J. Murphy Enterprises, and I AM KINGDOM Publishing, All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoyed this essay, please feel free to share it with your family, friends and social media to help spread this encouragement. Thank you for reading!

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