Poke the Box: Beliefs
I love inspiring others. Giving encouragement is one of my favorite forms of communication. Giving joy also brings me joy. Then comes the rub: There are boxes that we have placed ourselves in. Individually and collectively we have trapped ourselves in our own limited paradigms. We like things the way they are, but for life to grow and flourish, sometimes you have to poke the box.
Giving courage does not always mean giving warm fuzzies. It means helping another to see reality and find the strength within to face it. Our own ego loves to hide in boxes. We make images of ourselves and our beliefs and attach those images to us. Collectively, we compartmentalize and conform. We capitulate to the status quo, we bend to the "norm." But sometimes you have to poke the box.
And sometimes you have to have your own boxes poked. One of the biggest boxes you will ever poke for yourself and others is what we truly and deeply believe.
When I was bartending, I met a self-professed atheist who loved deconstructing other's beliefs. When he found out I was a Jesus-guy, our whole conversation took a turn into him working to poke my own personal box. I didn't much enjoy that conversation, but it helped give me perspective on myself. You see, I went through a phase where I did the same thing. Tearing the beliefs of others down, wielding a witty sword of deconstruction. I know what it feels like to be on the giving and the receiving end. That taught me empathy in dealing with others and their personal boxes. After all, I know what it feels like to have your head and heart spin, to lose your anchors of certainty, to feel a tectonic shift in your perspective take place and not know what to do. All this to say, poking boxes cannot only be for destruction. Deconstruction serves a purpose. It creates space. When there is a void, it can be filled in time. While attachment and rigidity remain, there isn't space for the spirit to breathe in something new.
In high school, I joined up with a pentecostal group of friends and felt my heart shift and paradigm expand. In college, I had my box of beliefs poked, spilled open and sifted through. On my journey, I have felt there are some core beliefs that have remained fairly constant, yet the whole color and texture of what I believe is different. I've moved from black-and-white into a realm of full-color. I've come from a sense of us/them into a sense of oneness and connectedness. I'm happy with what I have learned and come to believe, and I am thrilled the journey continues. None of this would happen without the occasional experience of disorientation.
Having learned the importance of recognizing my own boxes, where I find others running into their own boxes, I want to help how I can. I want to be a mirror for someone to step back and see themselves (and their beliefs) with new eyes. Like me, when others are too enmeshed in their images to see who they really are and what their boxes are doing to them, they just get angry. It's human, I get it. What is exciting is the alternative: When we come face-to-face with ourselves, see who we were being and find we can choose a new path. I think that's more what the biblical concept of "repentance" is anyway.
I highly recommend you poke the boxes you find. There is so much for us to learn for ourselves and we can contribute to the journeys of others. The challenge is to remain honest and empathetic, compassionate to others as we are to ourselves. Open to what the spirit is doing in our midst.