It’s really easy to put people in boxes and then only see the box, not the person.

I know, because I’ve done it.

I also know what being put in a box feels like, and it feels like one big misunderstanding. How many of us feel misunderstood? How many times do we misunderstand others?

I’ve been walking out this Christian life for longer than I recognize (because God chose me before I chose Him) and I’m finally getting used to the fact that so much of this life intertwined with God is mysterious, upsetting, unnerving, practical, impractical, hard, easy, ugly, and beautiful. It’s complex, like I am.

Life and people are full of complexities; when we box them up we take the easy road. We can move and place boxes without looking inside. The black ink on the front says, “Fragile” or “Trash” or “Emerging” or “Fundie” or whatever and so we don’t have to think. But God doesn’t do that – He doesn’t put us in a box; He unwraps our hearts. He pursues our souls and He invites the ugly. People are wildly intricate and messy and fascinating. If we box people up, we close up the opportunity to really love. People are one-million dimensional.

I think sometimes we create boxes because we forget that the Bible, the Word, is alive and active, able to reach deep into the complexities of the human make-up. That Word made flesh works inside, in the deep places, piercing souls and spirit, joints and marrow. There is nothing superficial about the work that goes on behind the flesh when the Spirit is moving. The knitting of our being by the Creator of everything is too much to wrap our minds around, let alone put a box around.  This is why the greatest commandment is to love. We just don’t understand the big picture; we cannot see the completion that God sees.

Boxes are walls that keep us from getting too close to each other.

Boxes are walls that keep us from love.


By Sarah Mae, SarahMae.com

Photo Credit: Klara by Andreas Øverland

  • http://nburmandesign.com nick burman

    What a beautiful article. “People are one-million dimensional.” Brilliant!

    Love is the greatest commandment, but not because it is the loftiest, most wonderful or best commandment to follow. It is the biggest, most overwhelming and hardest commandment of all. Don’t most people realise that they are complex and in need of so much grace and everyone else is just the same? Like Martin Luther said, ““WE ARE ALL MERE BEGGARS TELLING OTHER BEGGARS WHERE TO FIND BREAD”.
    Another angle is that we need to let ourselves out of our own boxes too. Life may not get better, it may just get different, but that’s ok.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      I love that quote.

      Thanks for the kind words…especially the “brilliant” part. ;)

  • http://www.gracecalling.net grace calling

    Yes. Beautifully written, my beautiful sister in Christ.

    Janelle Marie

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      Thank you. :)

  • http://jasonandkelliwoodford.blogspot.com/ kelli woodford

    yes! oh, this is the message that burns a hole in my heart, bleeding me out. i want this kind of sight, too. lover’s eyes.
    thank you for this. so glad i stopped in.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      “Lover’s eyes.” What a great way to put it!

  • http://therunamuck.com Amber@theRunaMuck

    Just a big hollering AMEN from me, sister.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      One of these days…

      Coffee. Couch. Long talk.

  • Tammie

    Your post is fabulous! I feel at times I am put in a box but never thought maybe I’ve done the same thing to others. Thank you!

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      It’s so easy to do, we all do it all the time. Glad it spoke to you!

  • Karen Smith

    Yeah, I’m not just a box or an e-mail. I’m a real person. So, I don’t do e-mails with people I do not know. Otherwise I just feel like I’m an e-mail or something out there, like a number and not a real person. People do that to each other, you know. It’s so degrading for the person. I felt so hurt inside of me when it happened to me. I’m a person with feelings and emotions like JESUS. Like the LORD. Like my Father who is in heaven. Do you think JESUS did not have feelings when HE suffered on the cross. Boy, did it hurt HIM. It broke HIS heart and it crushed HIM. When HIS friends betrayed HIM. Even JESUS has feelings. Even the LORD got angry when we turn away from HIM. HE has feelings too. HE’s not some far off PERSON that is unattainable. HE is God and HE is attainable. At the foot of HIS throne. Free. Even God is a PERSON. So, just cos we are crucified with Christ does not mean we do not have feelings. Even JESUS treats us like HIS precious child. Just blabbering about my feelings. As well.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      “Blabbering” can be good…helpful.

      And yes, real people behind screens and ideas and words…

  • http://www.queenieslittlekingdom.com Wanda

    One of the biggest teaching moments with my kids & others has been regarding putting GOD IN A BOX!
    We say we believe Him….and then stick him right inside the box when things get hairy in our faith. Doubt has a way of doing that to us.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae


  • http://www.jollynotes.com Bomi

    “If we box people up, we close up the opportunity to really love.”

    ~ Amen. Thank you so much for sharing. Love it!

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      THanks for reading! :)

  • http://thehomemakerproject.com Rebecca

    Awesome words. Thank you so much for the reminder. We get too lazy to get messy, too self-righteousness to really understand people. When we “label” people, they are no longer a unique, unfinished masterpiece that is loved and cherished by God.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      I do think it has to do with a form of laziness, it’s easier to box people up because then we don’t have to look at them as people, and issues are easier to deal with – there can be a system of what to do with them, or they can be ignored or written off.

  • http://www.momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

    Yes. Truth. This is one of my favorite posts ever, Sarah Mae. Profound and simple and just so TRUE. God… let me see the person.

    • http://www.sarahmae.com Sarah Mae

      Thank you, Dana! :)

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  • http://lauraboggess.com Laura

    This is so true, Sarah Mae. When we box people up this way it dims the light of their unique gifts–it’s easier to forget we are the Body and recognize how we can work together to bring the Kingdom now. Good thoughts, friend.

  • http://www.agirlinprogress.com Jill

    I’ve found it is so easy to go to the extremes with things in life. Like you said – we don’t have to think that way. We label someone and that’s that. No more thinking involved. We’re challenged not to chose the extremes (Ecclesiastes 7:18), which I have found, involves allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our behavior and thoughts. It’s hard for us to find middle ground on our own strength – at least for me it is.

  • http://preciouspagesbypaula.blogspot.com/ Paula McLane Jennings

    really loved this too!

  • http://www.BloomingWithJoy.com Michelle Pohl

    This post is such a great reminder. If God’s grace is sufficient for us, then it’s sufficient for those around us.

  • Beth Williams

    I used to “box” people by labeling them just by the outward appearance. Lately I’ve decided to get “messy” with those people and really get to know them. I realize that I have no right to box–label them–as they are a Child of the Almighty God just like me. We are all messed up humans saved by the Grace of God! :)

    We need to love & see people as God sees them! AMEN!

  • http://kimberlyamici.com Kimberly Amici

    great reminder. I box people in out of habit and am slowly breaking it. I hate it when it’s done to me so it should come easy, right? not so much. As I am learning more about grace, the love God has for me, and understanding my own uniqueness, I am seeing others through different eyes.

  • nichole

    Timely and much needed words.thx

  • Jamie Bickle

    Thank you for this shot of wisdom and a great way to start my day! What I am walking away with and get to carry with me is that “God chose me before I chose Him.” Sometimes the simplest of truth just smacks you upside the head and lands in your heart. He really did choose me LONG before I chose him.
    Thank you.

    Be blessed.

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan@ Walking Well With God

    I love the line, “God doesn’t put us in a box. He unwraps our hearts…” What a great reminder that we are all complex and we owe it to others and to ourselves to look beyond the surface. Thanks for your reminder…

  • http://www.missindeedy.com Missy

    It is far too easy to move boxes without looking inside. I believe this is my favorite post of yours. It’s challenging and encouraging all at the same time. And, in this fast-paced culture we live in, but aren’t of, I am especially convicted of the need to stop and intentionally look inside. And more, to maybe stop putting people into boxes, altogether!

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