I was taking inventory of the things in my mind one day. There were so many boxes sitting around. As I went from box to box, I lifted each lid to see what was inside. “Oh yes, I remember these things,” the memories washed over me like ocean waves, I struggled to remain standing.
Inside the box was the day I married my husband, the births of our children, and many Christmas memories. On and on I went. Then I noticed a box sitting in the corner. I had seen it before, all wrapped up in pretty paper with a large bow on top. I wondered to myself, “Why have I never opened this box?” Today was different, I thought; something was tugging, even pulling me to open the box.
My desire to open it kept growing greater by the moment. As I approached the box, I thought I could hear voices. Someone was saying something. I just couldn’t quite grasp what the voice was saying. My excitement was now nearly uncontrollable as I reached for the lid. I just couldn’t imagine what beautiful memory could be inside this pretty package.
I touched the lid and ever so carefully began to open it. My excitement faded quickly. The voice was coming from inside the box. Still muffled, but it was certainly within. Then to my horror, as I removed the lid, the voice became very clear.
“You are worthless!” it cried out to me. “You are not the person you used to be!”
What was this? Where were all these ugly things coming from?
“You are a stress and strain on your family,” it continued. “You have put all the financial pressure on your husband.”
I couldn’t stand it; I didn’t want to hear any more so I tried to replace the lid, but it wouldn’t go back on. I backed away from the box, but the insults grew louder.
“You are of no use to anyone. No one has a need for you and your broken body.”
I am certain I screamed as I ran from the box. The faster I ran, the louder the voice became.
I raced through my mind trying to find a place to hide, but there was nowhere to go. I kept running until I ended up in a small corner of my heart. I hid there, covered my ears and rocked myself trying to make the noise go away. But the voice kept pounding on me, drilling those ugly words into every pore of my being.
I don’t recall how long I sat in that tiny corner of my heart, but one day, things started to change. I could still hear the ugly screaming voice, but I could also hear a faint whisper.
It was much different than the first voice. This new voice was soft and gentle. I couldn’t hear it well over the other voice. In my frustration I yelled for silence so I could hear this soft voice.
Finally, I could hear the calm voice telling me I was special, made for a purpose.
The ugly voice said the opposite of this kind voice.
This kind and gentle voice said the nicest things. “You are my child,” it told me. “I have a plan for you. There is a work for you to do.” The more I listened the better I could hear the beautiful voice. It soothed me.
Finally one day the voice told me to get up and stop hiding in my heart. “Go put the lid on that box and destroy it,” the kind voice said.
I tried to leave, but I couldn’t move. During the time I had hidden in my heart, it had become hard. Trying to move around was nearly impossible.
The calm voice said, “You can’t do this alone, but I can help you, if you will let me.”
After a great deal of struggling, I finally conceded to the voice that I needed help.
I asked the voice to help soften my heart so that I could move around more easily. As my heart softened, I made my way out of the little corner and headed directly for my mind. I was going to close that box once and for all.
As I neared the box, I started becoming afraid again. “I can’t do this,” I thought to myself.
The soft voice started speaking, repeating a phrase over and over again. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” it said.
Then I started repeating it as well; I started believing.
I became stronger by the moment.
Soon I realized that the soft, calm voice was God. He was building me up as I learned to lean on Him, and not rely on my own strength.
Finally, I got the lid back on the box. I realized that the ugly voice was Satan. His voice was now quieted. I could still hear the low grumble of his voice, but the sweet voice of God overpowered his ugliness.
I don’t know for sure if the box was destroyed, but I do know that if the lid ever comes off again, God and God alone will help me conquer it, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I love the way you described "THAT" box as being so wonderfully wrapped and beautiful looking.
A critique should give guidelines on how to improve the article; but Shann, as always, has done a wonderful job of doing this in a positive, encouraging manner. I won't add, just encourage you to take note of what she has said and highlight the way you used quotation marks. I found it difficult to work my way through them.
This article should be polished up and sent to market; it is very good and very profound.
This was an amazingly creative way to describe the mental battle we go through, and how deceptive the enemy can be in his initial attempts to get our attention, and then begins to tear us down.
Not at all like God, who speaks to us in that beautiful still small and comforting voice to lift us up.
Very good job!
I absolutely love how you described, in such a creative way, the self-defeating thoughts many of us battle daily and how we often turn our lives over to hiding from them, instead of turning them over to God.
I can't think of anything to critique that hasn't already been mentioned. Bravo!
This piece is so bittersweet. It tore at my heart for it felt like you were writing my story, sharing my fears and failures to the whole world. That's a sign of excellent writing when you can pull a reader in like that.
I noticed some tiny errors that are easy to fix. When you were using quotes make sure you start a new paragraph each time there is a new speaker. In the beginning you put your thoughts in quotes but more in the middle you didn't which made me have to backtrack to see who was speaking or thinking.
Something you will hear as a writer over and over is Show don't tell. It's not an easy thing to do. A good way to do it is instead of using tag lines like she said or I thought, use that space to describe the speaker's actions or thoughts. For example -- in this line : “Oh yes, I remember these things,” I thought to myself.
try something like this -- "Oh yes..." My throat tightened as memories washed over me. I grabbed the back of a chair to steady myself.
That would give the reader a mental picture of what the MC was doing and feeling.
This is a powerful story and I'm sure pretty much everyone can relate to it. You did a divine job of taking me through the MC's attempts to run from her past. I think the ending would have been stronger if you had skipped the last paragraph where you question the reader. You have done such a fantastic job of pulling the reader in, that there is no need to ask them questions because the reader will have already connected to the MC and likely is pondering the same things you asked. I like the verse at the end because it is important that we can do all things but we can't do them alone -- only with the help of Jesus who strengthens me.
Again this is a wonderful piece and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I'm eager to read more of your work!