Pretty little boxes. They can be great to organize our stuff. Boxes of different sizes, colors and patterns. Categorizing and sorting can bring peace, comfort, and satisfaction. But sometimes, I find it paralyzing. 

I start sorting things by time of my life – a blue box for childhood memories, a floral box for high school, and a checkered box for college. But wait, should I instead be sorting by content? Should all old journals go in the blue box, letters and cards in the floral, and photos in the checkered?  Or maybe all school things should go into the blue one, all church things into the floral, and family things into the checkered? There are so many different categories, often overlapping. My mind struggles to choose just one way to sort them. Because of this, my boxes of memories contain a mishmash of things, including old high school papers mixed in with my children’s old school photos. 

And this has me thinking, how often do we try to put other people and ourselves into these same pretty little boxes? Shoving them into categories they don’t quite fit into. As a woman, I have often felt the suffocation of boxes created based on gender. I am a girl who loves science and math, who doesn’t wear makeup and doesn’t really care much about decorating. I don’t fit neatly into the boxes the evangelical church has created based on gender which I am reminded of in sermons and small group studies. 

But I am far from alone in not fitting into the pretty little boxes. We all do this to one another. 

Our friend from college who supports Trump but also supports immigrants’ rights. Or our friend from church who votes for a Democrat but is pro-life. The but is the problem here. We have categories that are overlapping, and yet, we try to keep them in one box. It doesn’t work that way. I can want a single-payer health care system, love Jesus, support immigrants, and be pro-life. My friend can want a fully privatized health care system, love Jesus, support immigrants, and support reasonable gun control. We need to stop trying to shove one another into pretty little boxes. Instead, we need allow others to be who they are.

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