Friday, September 20, 2013

The God Box

These are not my boxes. I found this picture when I searched for "pretty boxes." Aren't they pretty?
(Photo credit:

I learned of the concept of the God box from Anne Lamott, in her book HELP THANKS WOW, which I wrote about listening to last week. After I heard about it, I immediately texted my best friend and told her about it. She responded a bit later with a picture of a plain brown cardboard box, with the words "GOD BOX" scrawled across it in black sharpie. While it wasn't lovely, it was effective. She had clearly embraced the concept and was putting it to immediate use. This made me smile.

So what is a God Box? Anne Lamott describes it as a place to put those things you can't seem to let go of, a way to physically give God the things you've been wrestling with. The act of writing it down and releasing it into that box is both symbolic and impactful. It's a way to say, "It's yours. I'm done." And then literally hand it over and (because my box has a lid) close the lid on it.

Not to say you won't be tempted to take it back. But at the moment you are you can say to yourself, "Self, you already gave that to God. It's His now. Let it go." And then, ideally, you will.

This is not my friend's ugly box. Hers wasn't this pretty. I searched for cardboard boxes and found this, which was close enough to serve as an illustration.

The day after my friend made her ugly God Box (she admitted it was ugly, but desperate times call for desperate measures) something happened to her. Something terrible and burdensome and overwhelming. When she texted me and told me about it I reminded her about the God Box, and how this was the time to put it to use. She said, "How amazing is it that I have this right when I need it?"

When I'd heard about it through Anne Lamott's book and, in a burst of inspiration, texted my friend the idea, I'd of course had no idea she'd be facing something the next day. But God did. He knew she would need a place to put what happened to her, a way to give it to Him that went beyond your garden variety prayer. This felt bigger, and therefore called for a way to handle it that meant something to her. Out of the box praying, if you will. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Maybe you need a God Box of your own. I know I've already put mine to good use. Now when something happens and my mind starts running away with me, I stop, go to my God box, retrieve the pen and index cards I've put inside it, and scrawl it down, fold it in half and leave it there for Him to sort out. Then I close the lid and get on with living, and trusting. And when I start to go there in my mind, I think of those little folded index cards containing my burdens, the things I've literally given to Him already.

And if they're His, they're not mine to carry anymore.

This is neither my box nor my friend's. But I liked the message on the lid, so I included it here. This would make a fine God Box if you happened to have it lying around.

Incidentally, my friend's sister saw her ugly God Box and said "Well that just will not do" and gave her a box that she had that was just lovely and totally perfect. So she put her ugly problem in her pretty box and she let it go. Or, she's working on letting it go. The God Box is helping.

Maybe it'll help you, too.

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Mary DeMuth said...

I have a crush on this post. Well done, and so timely. I wonder just how overfilled my box will get! said...

Marybeth, I've been doing this for years, either physically into the box or praying it. It works because He's waiting for us to do just this -- give everything to Him. Great post!

Pam said...

Genius! Although I am in the habit of praying and taking my concerns or worries or stresses to HIM, I think the act of writing them out and actually placing them in a God box will help me to better leave it in HIS very capable, all-knowing hands.

Thanks for sharing this idea, Marybeth. I can't wait to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I just finished the fiction book The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate. The story evolves around the main character finding a closet full of the prayer boxes of a 90 year old woman (boxes from her entire life). Excellent book.