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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Elementary School (07/19/04)

TITLE: Thinking Outside the Crayon Box
By darlene hight


I hear people talking a lot these days about thinking outside of the box. For awhile, it was called ‘coloring outside of the lines’ but that term didn’t stick. Coloring is an institution that is sacred and not to be trifled with. Imagine crowds of angry second graders donning signs and shouting, “Don’t be messy!” It’s just a little too colorful for most people. Thus the saying, ‘Thinking outside of the box’ has become acceptable, ‘inside the box’ and appropriate.

My problem has never been being unable to think outside of the box. Rather, the opposite is true. Rare is the time that my thinking comes anywhere near the box!

This personality quirk is more apparent to other people, generally, than it is to me. When I make a comment and it evokes raucous laughter or it is met with a “What did you just say?” look, then I realize, “Hmm… This might not be ‘in the box’ thinking.”

I first became aware of differences in thought, upon entering elementary school.
Prior to that as a preschooler, I gave no thought to thought, neither inside or outside. If my thoughts were ‘outside of the box’ and I assume that they were, I was blissfully unaware of it. As a preschooler, I enjoyed thinking many interesting things, which I shared with my best friend. My best friend was our dog “Harvey”. I told Harvey everything. He must have been an ‘out of the box’ listener because he enjoyed my stories very much and listened attentively.

As an elementary school student, most people described me as a quiet little girl. I think that I was just avoiding the raucous laughter, “What did you just say?” effects of my words, by being quiet. If people could’ve heard the things going on inside my head, they would’ve described me differently.

One thing I know for certain is that I found the children at school a little odd but very interesting. I spent a great deal of time observing them.

One day during my observations, the teacher handed all of the children, myself included, papers with numbers on them. The numbers were placed one above the other with a cross next to them and a line underneath. All of the children began writing, I concluded that I, too, should write. Later, when the papers were returned, the teacher had placed a big red X next to all of my numbers! “What could this mean? It must be a secret code! She forgot to give me the answer to the secret code! Oh no! What am I going to do now?” Several years later in an algebra class, I had a horrible flash back of that day but that’s a story for another time.

On another day, the teacher gave us instruction in coloring. She taught us to color using small strokes. I took these instructions very serious and began to color using the tiniest strokes that I could manage. A little girl next to me looked at my paper and said, “She didn’t mean that little!” I didn’t answer her but I thought to myself “Mine is going to be prettier than hers!”

Over the years, I have learned that God cares little if we think inside or outside of the box. As long as we stay true to the form He is designing and inside the lines of Jesus.
Whether we use big strokes or little strokes, we can rest in the assurance that God’s design is always perfect. You might even conclude that it is the prettiest design!

Romans 14:2-3 One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him.

Member Comments
Member Date
Very nice article. I especially liked the title. When i think back to elementary school, i could never color in the lines and i'm still more comfortable outside of the box than in. But you are right, God uses us where we will do the best to serve him.
Angela Moore07/26/04
I related a lot to your story. Very cute.
Melanie Kerr 07/26/04
What an individual and interesting child you were. It took me while to work out what the numbers and the X's were about, but I got there in the end - i must also be an out of the box thinker!
Deborah Anderson07/26/04
I loved reading about Harvey, and the point at the end that was well made. Thank you and God bless you.
Phyllis Inniss07/26/04
It's always good to have a Harvey to listen to you whether you're in the box or not. Interesting story.
L.M. Lee07/26/04
catchy title and well written!
Deborah Porter 07/26/04
Darlene, this is delightful. What an encouragement to all those people who are just a bit "out of the box" all the time. Love, Deb
Jean Boulmay07/27/04
Darlene, Thanks for your story, it is a good reminder to me not to be judgemental.