Sunday, April 05, 2009

Little Boxes on a Hillside

I grew up singing this song for some reason. Everytime Max and I drive by a large development with matching houses, the words creep into my mind.

The thing is ... that's not really the subject for my blog. Though it's a good subject for another blog. Maybe another day.

I've been thinking about the boxes that we expect each other to fit in. I ran up against this last night and have been processing it quite a bit today, wondering at my response to the whole thing. I met some people last night and spent time with them for the first time ever. While at dinner, knowing that I wasn't attending a church right now, one of them asked if I had found a church and I discovered that I needed to defend myself and explain myself. I don't fit into a proper box with this issue because in America, all good Christians attend and are involved in a local church on Sunday mornings. If you aren't, well ... you are either fallen away or are in rebellion. I don't fit in that box.

A little later on, the subject of me not working outside the home came up and I realized that I no longer fit in that box either. Now, 20-25 years ago, no one automatically assumed that women worked outside the home, but at this point ... everyone should be in the workplace ensuring productivity for the family. I don't fit in that box.

I then discovered that I felt the need to explain my goals and hopes for the future. You see, I'm supposed to have those well defined if I'm not going to be a productive member of society right now. If it's seminary or continuing education or something like that, well, those are boxes that people understand and can accept, so they'll conveniently drop me into one of those and brush their hands together in relief. But, I really don't fit in that box.

I'm expected to go and do a lot. I prefer to be in my study, reading and studying and writing and being a hermit. But, that's not a box that people are comfortable with. So, when I don't want to go out and do all the time, I raise eyebrows of confusion from my friends. I don't fit in a normal 'friend' box.

When I was a small child, I tended to run up against the popular girls quite often. They didn't really like me because I was a bit of an independent thinker. And, when I didn't fit in their box, they eliminated me from their play. I would run home in tears not understanding what had happened to me. Mom spent a lot of time ensuring that I understood that unique was not the worst way to live in the world. I've never been comfortable with well-defined boxes.

At the same time, because I also grew up in a family that learned to play the game and fit in so that Dad's ministry could be effective in a community, I find myself trying to adjust the boxes so that they will fit my personality. What I need to do is toss off the idea of a box completely!

I am still struggling back and forth with this. I try to keep people around me content and satisfied and I attempt to avoid stirring up dissension. I want my friends to be happy and not stressed, I want them to see normalcy when I'm around. But, all kidding aside (I know you all want to tease me about that word - normal), I'm not comfortable in the defined walls of the boxes that I am expected to reside within.

So ... busting out of the boxes and shredding them to pieces seems to be a great idea. I wonder if I have the courage.


Rebecca said...

The beauty of you is that you aren't in a box...and your life right now makes people that like boxes have to reexamine because once they talk to you they realize their snap decisions based on your "circumstances and decisions" might not be correct. I love that you are who you are... because you are so secure in it and because of that security you give me as a friend the space to be who I am... kooky, crazy, intense, whatever. Your life gives me hope... i say that a lot but it is the truth!

Diane Muir said...

Maybe my stress is that I sense people trying to design boxes that I should reside in so that they are comfortable being around me. Blerg.

Diane Muir said...

I guess I shouldn't complain. Rebecca shows how we put Jesus in a box! Check this out:

Rebecca said...

Yeah maybe you make them a little uncomfortable maybe your freedom makes them start to feel a little out of control but there is no harnessing you girl you are a force to be reckoned with! heheeh

tlksimpson said...

Hmmmm.....First off, if one is truly your friend, you should NEVER have to explain or defend yourself. Second....I think what you are doing is wonderful! And you deserve it. I think back to the days at Insty Prints where a normal person would have had a nervous break down with the pressure and long hours that you worked.

Third -- I remember feeling this way once when Steve and I met you and Max and a group of your friends for dinner. When hearing that we lived in Council Bluffs, one person in the group ripped Council Bluffs up one side and down the other. I felt so defensive...I felt like what this person said was about Me...not just the town in which I live. My face turned red, Steve was ready to leave...and thankfully Max said some off-the-wall funny comment that made everyone laugh and at the same time gently showing the person how rude they were being.

So my defensiveness was my self-imposed view from inside the box out....when really....all the boxes and categorizing are illusions and this "truth" is what makes people my mind leads this into the "box" that many would like to place God...but I'll stop for now. (I haven't read Rebecca's blog yet.)

Diane Muir said...

None of us like to be pegged, because that means we are limited in what we are allowed to do by other's definitions.

And really, I'm finding that I just need the courage to say, "this is who I am." Because once I say it, I'm allowed the freedom to be it.

But then, if I want to change from that - I run into a new expectation. It keeps a girl on her toes!

tlksimpson said...

"Truly, you have a dizzying intellect!"