Two damaged picture frames, a stuffed toy and novelty devil ears. A random assortment of useless crap? Maybe. God trying to tell me something? Definitely.
Bear with me for a minute.
Coming up on five years ago now, I found myself just miserable enough to be willing to adopt a whole new prescription for living.
With this prescription came a new arsenal of tools, which I continue to use in ongoing 12-step recovery work. These tools have made a tremendously positive impact on my emotional and spiritual well-being, and I don’t know how in the hell I lived without them for so long.
To sum up … they make me happy. For realz.
One of those tools – perhaps the most important one – is the practice of actively turning my problems over to a higher power. “Let go and let God.” Problems can run the gamut from the mundane to the life threatening. They can be people, places, things, situations, attitudes… anything that is causing discord in my life.
The process of letting go is unique to everyone, but for me, it involves some form of prayer and/or meditation. I don’t have a clearly defined higher power (HP) that I pray to, I just know that he/she/it is bigger and more powerful than my puny little human essence, it knows what’s best for me, and it loves me unconditionally.
The idea of “turning something over” is purely conceptual, which makes it tricky for even the most spiritual person. And I am here to tell you that for me, it takes a lot of practice. I may never do it as consistently as I’d like.
But I have been shown over and over that my problems always, always, reach the best possible outcome when I let them go. I read a quote the other day that sums up the process quite nicely: “When I can finally persuade myself to let go of a problem that has been tormenting me, solutions begin to unfold that I never dreamed were possible.”
My human thinking is so very, very limited. There have been times when my HP granted me the exact solution that I wished for, and I realized too late that it was not at all what I really wanted or needed. In fact, the pretty picture I had in my head turned out to be more like Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream.”
I prayed and prayed for a geographical cure to my career woes a few years ago, and I specifically asked to land a corporate marketing job. I got it, and OH MY GOD was it a nightmare. I bet my HP was hovering over me, chuckling… saying, “SEE? See? Ya idjit. Love you!!”
Lately, I’ve been white-knuckling one person, er, problem, I really need to let go. I love this person, but said person is just not giving me what I need. Too much of my heart and brain space are being taken up by this person, and I want those pieces of me back to dedicate toward more positive pursuits.
Anyhoo, since I can’t quite seem to do it on my own, and just praying about it is not helping, I decided it’s time to employ a more tangible tool, my God box.
A few years ago, a fellow 12-stepper who has years of experience on me suggested I designate a household container of my choice as a God box. The idea is that, anytime I have a problem I need to turn over to my HP, I write it on a piece of paper and put it in the box, saying a short prayer as I do. This simple, physical act gets it out of sight and out of mind, and I truly feel like I have given it over to someone/something else to solve. In other words, it friggin’ works.
I used my God box all the time when I was early in my recovery, but I’ve gotten away from it in the past year or so. The container I chose is a decorative wooden box that sits on my living room bookshelf. It’s always there in plain view, and I dust around the damn thing every few weeks, but I still managed to forget about it until I found myself beating my head against a wall regarding
the aforementioned not-so-good-for-me person.
I wrote the person’s name on the back of a postcard I got at the National Gallery of Art in 1988 (which is significant, but I’m not going to go into why), and opened the box, all set to drop it in there and let the person go.
Turns out, my HP had a few things to say to me when I opened the lid… there was already a pile of stuff in there. Apparently, during a few previous shelf dustings, I used the box as a catch-all kind of storage. Which bring me to the picture frames, toy and devil’s ears.
In looking at the items one by one, I realized that they each represent an area of my life I have been forced to make peace with during my journey of recovery. I think I subconsciously put these “problems” in the God box, knowing on some level that my HP needed to take them from me. I certainly don’t want them anymore.
The first item I pulled out of the box is a framed photo of my son at age 4 (he is now 18). The glass is cracked, so that’s how it ended up in the box instead of displayed with other family pics on the shelf. Not to get all hoo-doo, but I think this photo represents all the mistakes I made as a mom. Now that my son is grown, it’s time to let all the could-a, should-a crap go. I can't go back in time.
The second framed photo, the backing of which is torn, is of my maternal grandmother. I adored her, but she died when I was 9. She was a career woman back before it was cool, and I think on some level she served as a barometer for my success. Seeing her photo tucked away in the God box made me realize that I need to let go of those ancient expectations. My career is MY career, and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
The small, stuffed bunny toy is, of course, a harbinger of my childhood. The devil ears represent my drinking and partying days, which are long over. Both are part of who I was, but they are no longer who I am.
As you might be able to tell by all my jibber-jabber, I really do believe that my HP talks to me by putting stuff (people, places, things) in my path that I need to see or hear at the exact time I need to see or hear it.
So opening up my God box to place a new problem in it, only to find a bunch of other problems I have successfully handed over, is a clear reminder that this "let go and let God" thing really does work.
So anyway, HP, you've got my attention, you sneaky bastard. And I can’t wait to hear what you’ll say next.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.