A creative tool for “letting go”
By Kathryn Rea Smith, PH.D.
In my family we have a God Box. It’s nothing fancy. It’s actually an old Florsheim shoe box, circa 1995, with a partition inside and two slots in the lid. Even though humble in appearance, this box is treasured for the assistance it has provided to me, my husband and our sons. In this article, I will explain the concept of the God Box and provide instructions for making one of your own.
A God Box is simply a tool for giving one’s concerns to God. It’s a tool I really could have used in childhood. Like many people who were raised in religious households, I grew up hearing such things as “Let go and let God” or “Turn it over to God.” I was told I could give my concerns to God, and He would take care of them for me. Through doing so, I could be relieved of fear and anxiety. These ideas sounded great to me—However, I could not figure out how to do the “letting go” part. The concept was too abstract!
When I was in college, I learned how to use a God Box, and it has made a big difference in my life. The God Box is essentially a form of prayer, but one that is also a concrete and tangible method for giving worries over to God’s care. I have used it ever since, and I have introduced the technique to my husband and children with good results all around.
How does one make a God Box? All you need is an empty shoebox. Partition the inside into two sections and cut two slits in the lid, one above each interior section. Label one side “Concerns” to represent the things you are worried about. Label the other side “Gratitude” to reflect your concerns that have been resolved.
“I was told I could give my concerns to God, and He would take care of them for me. However, I could not figure out how to do the ‘letting go’ part. ”
Once you have your box, specify all the things you are worried about. Perhaps you have one large worry, such as an aging parent in the hospital, or you may have multiple smaller worries such as items on a holiday preparations “to do” list. The key is to identify as precisely as possible the issues that are disturbing your serenity. What initially appears to be one big concern may turn out to consist of several smaller issues. When you have identified your list of worries, write each one on separate pieces of paper. I write the date on the paper as well.
Now comes decision time. You have the option of giving each of your concerns to God. This is symbolically represented by placing the slips of paper in the “Concerns” section of the box. Once the paper is in the box, you have turned your problem over to God and must stop worrying about it. You always have the option of taking back the problem. However, if you do so, you must physically remove that particular slip of paper from the box and hold onto it until you are ready to return it to the box and to God’s hands.
Next is the fun part. After some time passes, look in the box at your slips of paper. You will be amazed to see that some, if not many, of the things you were so worried about have resolved, often in unforeseeable ways. My typical response has been “I cannot believe I was so worried about that—look how well it worked out!” In 2005, for example, I lost my job and was scared and worried about finances to the point that I was losing sleep. The problem went into the God Box, and I calmed down. Eventually, I obtained another job that was a much better fit for me than the job I had lost, and I credit God for sustaining me through the job search process.
When a problem has been solved, you transfer that piece of paper to the “Gratitude” section of the God Box, the repository of answered prayers. Personally, I utter a prayer of thanks when I make the transfer. While most of my problems seem to be settled quickly, one slip of paper remained in the “Concerns” side of the box for ten years before being transferred, which brings to mind the phrase “In God’s time, not mine.” The God Box is a reliable tool for coping with those unresolved issues that endure over time.
One reason I like the God Box so well is that its use helps strengthen one’s faith. When “worries” are transformed into “answered prayers,” it seems easier to see the hand of God in our daily lives.