Don't Be Boxed In

Quincy Brown


Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of walking down memory lane.

Once with my college classmate Charlie, and the other with a few of our district churches during a morning message. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 29 years since I graduated from college.
As I reflected on my experiences, I also remembered how long it took me to get a job after I graduated. Fortunately, during the time that I was in limbo having a degree but not enough experience and no money, my Daddy allowed me to return to the family business of Brown Cement Finishing. I'd worked the summers with Daddy since I was 13 years old, and now I was back, working just enough to pay Daddy rent because I couldn't afford an apartment.
Six months after graduation, I finally landed my first job as a technical consultant where I installed computer networks for public schools systems. 

While working at this company, I had to attend a few training sessions. The first of these sessions was a weeklong orientation in San Diego with the technical division of the company. 
Having just graduated from college a few months earlier, I was thrilled at the opportunity to go to the west coast. There was only one problem: I had never flown on an airplane before. I'd never even been to the airport. So I had to rely on my parents’ sense of direction and timing to get me there on time. Big mistake! 
We were late because my parents miscalculated the time that it took to get from our home to the airport leaving me with just 20 minutes to make my flight.  After clearing security and knowing nothing of the train system, I picked up my brown Samsonite suitcase (think 1970s luggage) and began sprinting like a crazy through the airport terminal.

As I was running and pushing people out of my way, I couldn't help but think about my parents didn't listen to me plead with them about the importance of being at the airport at least an hour before take-off. Right before the flight attendant closed the airplane door, I darted onto the plane. Once I found my seat and began to catch my breath, the plane took off. As I looked out at the open blue sky from my window seat, something about the shape of the clouds suggested that I was beginning to see a much bigger world than my parents’ boxed-in way of seeing the world.
Like my parents during my San Diego trip, thinking outside the box is something that most of us have a hard time doing. It's much easier not to question anything and accept that this is just the way that things always have been. For some of us, asking, especially in the area of faith, is something that is frowned upon tremendously.
We often find that in asking questions about life’s difficulties that we still have more unanswered questions remaining. There are not always solid answers, and sometimes what we discover challenges our worldview—the way that we see the world. 
Concrete answers are reassuring. They are durable, stable, and something that we count on.  This scenario is especially real when being pulled in different directions on an issue, and we don’t know what to do or which way to turn. But what seems to works for one person as a solid worldview can be a barrier that blocks and challenges another person’s way of seeing the world.
Our way of seeing relies on a set of underlying assumptions and beliefs about the nature of reality and how it may be known. Like a pair of glasses that we wear, we get so used to our way of seeing the world that we forget that we are interpreting everything we see through these glasses all the time.  We think we see things the way things are. If someone sees the world differently, we automatically assume that the person is wrong!
But life isn't that simple, and most of the complex situations that we deal with in life are not in a closed system of either right or wrong. Instead, real-life struggles are often open-ended situations with no single correct answer and require an open system worldview where there’s room for multiple perspectives. These type of conflicts requires a quantum leap of removing our worldview glasses to think outside the box.  
Thinking outside of the established way of seeing the world can be very threatening.  And because of this threat, we rarely examine or question our faith worldview.  And when others see or do things differently, the tendency is often to think they are wrong immediately. Then, we feel that we must teach them the right way. 
This week I encourage you to not to be boxed in and to have the faith to listen to another's viewpoint—even if you don't necessarily agree with it.   

On the Journey,


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