My family has moved houses three times in the last 12 years. I know it doesn't sound like much, but every time we move I feel an indescribably pain in my gut. I HATE IT!!
I don't know why I hate it so much, but I do know, almost every item we pack I can't stop myslef from asking, "Why are we keeping this?" And it doesn't matter what it is. It could be something as trivial as the newspaper stack I've neglected to throw away, or pictures from our wedding day. The simple fact is, STUFF is frustrating.
So we do what every family does when they begin the process of moving, we go to the Container Store, UPS, FED-EX, the good ol' USPS, and we buy hundreds of cardboard boxes.
The only saving grace to packing up all our stuff, is the fact we can filter through it all and decide what is worth keeping and what's not worth moving. My wife is UNBELIEVABLE at this. She has the ability to throw STUFF away like a CHAMP! But it's still painful to take as much time and energy to move from one location to the other.
Once the boxes have been packed, we can load up the moving vehicle with ease, and pack everything tightly in a space. We label every box so we know exactly where to make sure it lands upon arrival. It makes for easy loading, and easy unloading when we reach the desired destination. I'm certain without boxes, I'd go insane! You'd never FIND ANYTHING!
This weekend I was with a group of guys working on major world issues. We were talking about all the conflicts around the globe, and what it would take for those of us interested in following Jesus to, in effect, BE Jesus to people around us. One of the guys at the table began categorizing people and putting them in their own boxes, labeling and all. I had visions of packing up my stuff for another move, and then I started thinking.
Are boxes really that important?
I know they are important when it comes to moving, but can you put people in boxes in order to strategize how you're going to treat them? Is that honest? Is it authentic? Or do we try to categorize people so we can manipulate an agenda on their terms, rather than ours?
After a pretty heated discussion about the necessity of boxes or the unreliability of the boxes, one of the smartest guys in the room said, "We only put these boxes on people because they actually exist. The conflicts around the world often arise when people label their own boxes and seclude themselves from the conversations with people who have different labels. So we're not intent on created boxes for people to live in, we're simply identifying those boxes so we can creatively understand the keys to their culture. We want to understand their story. We want to empathize with their pain. We want to serve them were they need to be served."
It was a great way of learning how to love someone else.
Often times we perceive our relationships with other as if they have to live in our boxes, in our spaces. But to truly reach out to love someone else, it takes a well thought out understanding of who they are, where they come from, and what issues are central to them being human in their story.
Do you see the difference?
Instead of trying to mold and shape your world in nice neat little packing squares, the squares are intended to allow you to perform to most profound of all human interactions...LISTENING! With the proper education for someone else's plight, you have the sacred key to interacting with someone else based on their story, NOT YOURS.
Listening is a lost art in our culture, and if you think about it; the people you want live life with in your community are often the people willing to sacrifice their need to be heard, and sit to listen to YOUR story.
So why is it any different when it's your turn?
I concluded, at the end of the weekend, boxes are important.
Not for the purpose of manipulations.
Not for the intended goal to make someone think like you think.
Not for some hidden agenda to sell someone faith principles.
But rather; boxes are important because they give you the keys to listen intently.
The Bible Says, "Rejoice with those who Rejoice, and Mourn with those who Mourn" (Romans 12:15)
When we're able to fully understand people around us, we can engage in a the sacred art of developing friendship.
Listen to those around you today.
Simply Be WITH them.
It's the most exciting part about developing a community of people who love one another.