Our culture can get obsessed with boxes, with little reflection on the value of what is in the box. Office supply stores, “Big Box” stores, moving companies, and home décor stores all seem to focus on the container, with little emphasis on the contents. Yet, it’s what is in the box that has the real value, almost always emotional value.
There are rows of boxes that need to be ticked when filling out health forms, most forcing us down memory lane of past surgeries and diseases of both our family and us. Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, there is no time to reflect on those events or the depth of value of lives connected to the box.
The 21st century has repeatedly shown, not always smoothly or comfortably, that lives don’t easily fit into boxes. Yet, we are often asked to self-identify with a list of labels, which put our preciousness into a box, the latest U.S. survey being the biggest example. Some of the vast collection of identity boxes are race, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, class, income, education, and age. None of which easily fit into just one box. They spill into each other and are bound together with complex experiences of what is often called intersectionality. It’s understandable that some of us, including myself, resist the restriction of the label or box.
At some point, we forget that we are not the box; we are not the label. At some point, we need to remember the content inside the box holds the true value, the powerful and amazing part of what it is to be a human being on this gorgeous planet. The reality is the beautiful content of lives can’t be contained, constrained, closed up, or labeled.
Yes, the boxes serve as a tool to help us identify the dominant norms. This is helpful because the dominant norms are often used to harm others. Far too many of our beloved community members, friends, and family do not fit into the dominant norms, never have, never will, nor should they. There is a painful reality of living in a world full of anxiety and bias, triggering too many who work to preserve the dominant norm out of fear of losing their identity. Individual identities have historically been oppressed through eradication and assimilation, making invisible that which is beautiful and unique.
As we place pieces of our lives into another box, remember we are not that box or label, even while the box can help us keep the contents safe. The box is just a temporary container until we can unpack it and celebrate its value and meaning.
What’s in your box?
With love and prayers, Rev. Kate
- Mary Alice Drusbasky requests prayers for her sister-in-law Martha, who was in a severe car accident and in the hospital with serious injuries. All her family members need your love and prayers.
If you have joys or sorrows you would like to share with the community, please send them to Rev. Kate at email@example.com.