Ask any girl between the ages of 16-21 who believes that she has ever loved and lost to show you her relationship box, and she’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. She’ll scale a chair to reach the top shelf of her closet, or she’ll crouch down to the floorboards and sweep her delicate arm under the bed, and out it will come. Some are tattered old shoe boxes, some beautifully decorated antique hat boxes or suitcases, and still others may better resemble an old laundry bag or worn out pillow case, but they all share the same contents. Precious memories of a relationship that eventually went sour.
The box holds the good things, the treasures she accumulated during the dreamy days to prove to herself that this amazing love was not a figment of her imagination. Ticket stubs from the movie where he first reached over to hold her hand. Dead, dried, flowers he sent on her birthday, along with the heartfelt card, and her favorite mix tape of all time, of course. His favorite t-shirt that he doused in cologne and betrothed to her when they had to spend that first week apart. Close-up pictures of their two happy faces smashed together as he extended his long arm to hold the camera out as far as possible. The hairpin she wore to the prom, the notes he left on her car windshield, and a handful of the garden pebbles he tossed at her window while calling her his "Juliet."
If she dumped the guy, or worse yet, had her heart broken by him…why keep all the souvenirs? She’s not sure why. She had to get them out of her room, off of her dresser, out of sight. But, no matter what happened toward the end, she just wasn’t ready to permanently part with the remnants of the good times. So she boxed them up and hid them, as much from herself as from anyone else. She’ll never admit it, but occasionally, when life gets really lonely and she’s tempted to stop believing in the power and goodness of love, she fishes out the box and remembers what used to be.
In Greek mythology, Pandora, the first woman ever created, was given a box. This box was filled with mysteries, things that didn’t belong to her. She was so curious to know what was inside, that she opened it without a second thought. To her utter shock and dismay, the “gifts” inside were actually many evil things, such as toil, illness and despair. When she opened the box, these things were released into the world, plaguing the human race ever since, according to the legend.
I have come to realize lately that I have unknowingly been filling a “God box” with memories, experiences, and lessons learned from my relationship with Christ over the last few years. Did Jesus and I break-up? Certainly not, but as more and more of Pandora’s treasures have been poured into my life through recent experiences, I’ve definitely had moments where I unintentionally pulled away from God and confined His goodness and glory to a box in the closet of my darkened heart.
I’ve taken blessings like the fearlessness required to step out in faith and follow a God who doesn’t tell me where we’re going, and I’ve put them in the box because I’m a mother now and I’ve convinced myself that such actions seem somewhat irresponsible. Other things, like my desire to believe the best about everyone while trusting that God will protect me from the pain of deception or rejection have been thrown in the box so many times that I’d like to lock them up and throw away the key. God’s ability to provide for my every need at the exact moment it arises sometimes ends up in the box, too, buried under His infinite wisdom and His plans to prosper me as I walk through this life with Him. All these things are taking up space in my “God box” instead of making their home in my heart and my mind like they should. What a waste!
The part of the Pandora’s myth that is often left out is that in her box filled with a world full of evil, there was one other thing. Hope. As the pain, the sickness, and the endless hardships that define human life poured out, hope seeped through. Without the despair that so easily ushers us into total hopelessness, there is no need for hope, for faith, for trust. Because of the pain, we know what hope is. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” When I confine the God of the universe to a box full of memories of a relationship that’s now on the rocks, all hope is bottled up also.
Maybe, just maybe, if I bring that box out into the light; if I dust it off and remove the lid…the hope will pour out and fill this house with light. And I will once again be able to take hold of those sweet memories and dance gracefully to the sound of His voice, as He sings over His child.