Currently, I am living in boxes. Not for any legitimate reason. I do not need them for physical protection. My zeal for imagination did not take me back to my childhood. I’ve written about how my friends and I transformed a refrigerator box into an infinite number of purposes and places. Living out of those boxes involve literal objects. These are virtually created by myself. Each one holds a perception of my identity before and after the accident body appearance, daily rhythms, mobility, vocation, mental health. They are only visible to myself and God. But the implications affect others.
My car accident in May resulted in some changes to my mental health and my body. When trauma occurs, the body’s natural response is to protect itself. Healing takes time. Lots of time for reflection can lead to leaning into the voices in your head. Ones that are still in the midst of making sense of the grief and trauma that the body and mind remember. Even if I don’t.
But there’s the rub. I lurch toward compartmentalizing my life. Gathering more boxes lets me sit in my self perceptions. Truthfully they are divided into two categories: before and after the accident. The changes to my body are apparent. The scars show themselves blatantly and I ponder why they bother me so much. I realize that, without acknowledging it, part of my identity lied in my appearance. My shoulder is currently disfigured. I have limited movement in my arm. In addition, my gait is slower than it was four months ago. I confront the truth that my previous identity was connected to ableism and body image.
Somehow in the midst of living in my various boxes of self perception, I experience what Ann VosKamp calls “soul amnesia.” God did not stop moving in my life, redeeming my experiences, calling me to everyday divinely ordained purposes or radiating glory through me. So I realize it’s time to get rid of the boxes. I step out in my transformed self (literally in all ways) and embrace the liberation offered.
My friend Aubrey Sampson’s words in her new book, “Known” pierce my soul.
“You are not called to be noteworthy or special or more successful than your peers, or to be more successful than an earlier version of yourself, or to hustle your way into a better life. You are called to look more like Jesus in each new season. That’s what it means to move forward even when the objective measures of life feel like they’re going backward.”
I don’t know what life is like in this new season. But I do know who informs it. And the only way to embrace that truth is to step out of the boxes. One step at a time.