Do you remember those mandatory essays in middle school and high school when they would give you a specific prompt you had to write about? There were two kinds of people when it came to this. Those who loved the ability to be creative and those who dreaded the thought of having to make up a story. Out of all the years I have been in school there is only one of those prompts that has really stuck in my head, the box. The prompt went a little something like this: You were out somewhere in a random neighborhood and suddenly you find a box, the goal of the essay was to tell a story about the box. How did it get there? Why is it there? What did it look like? What was in it? What did you do with it? Basically, you had the free reign to write an absurd story about your adventure with this box.

If you are like me, you want to know what's in the box. I am a bit nosy when it comes to things like birthday presents, Christmas presents, mail, and any other type of item that can be ripped apart and opened. Although there is another side to me that gets a bit fearful to open the package. There is always a bit of anxiety and nervousness about what could be in it. I was reminded recently about another box, the box I pack. Instead of a box that I open, it's a box I am cramming filled with emotions, talents, thoughts, people, and so many other things and hammering shut. Maybe you have been doing a similar thing and not even recognizing it.

My box started out small, maybe a few fears and anxious thoughts here and there but recently my box has began to explode. I started to pack away my confidence, my heart, passions, fears, dreams, love, and so many other feelings. I got scared you guys. Scared of what this big world has to offer and mostly scared of what God was walking me in to. I call this box: SHUT DOWN. I shut down physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I packed up the life that God had given me and sealed it shut. And then the last few weeks happened. I had the opportunity to join with friends and share my story at a youth camp in Nevada City where students had the chance to ask questions after. These students asked amazing questions that blew me away. One specifically has stuck with me, he asked "How do you stay so cheerful and happy? Even in the really hard parts you still had a smile on your face." I was honest with him and told him that I'm not like that all the time. Some days get to be really hard and overwhelming. But it was in that moment when I was able to see something come alive. In Ephesians 2, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus and writes "...we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions..." (Eph. 2:3-5) We deserve death, BUT GOD chose to save us. It is because of this I can share my story with joy and say my God is good. In that moment my box gained a bit more availability. I was reminded of my love for sharing the story God has given me, my love for ministry and talking with students. I was reminded of my dreams of one day owning a camp or working directly with students dealing with their own issues. In those small moments, I slowly gained back my life by opening my box and allowing myself to dream.

My challenge for you friends is to take a hard look at your own box. What is it that you are packing away? What will happen if you open that box? What will happen if you keep it closed?

From one human to the next,