Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whose Box Is It Anyway?

As we talk about living “outside the box” there is an important question that each of us needs to answer:  “Whose box is it anyway?”  The short answer for each of us is, “It’s mine.” Whether I like it or not, as soon as I impose limits on myself that God didn't intend I have claimed those limits as my own. The box becomes mine.  We have to state that at the outset.
Who’s to blame? We all like to blame our problems on someone else. We know we shouldn't and will convince ourselves that we aren't blaming anyone, but we do. We learn a lot about what we think we can and can’t do from our family of origin. Since no family is perfect there are views that we learn that don’t line up with truth. We also learn to fit in with societal norms as we observe the way the world works. We often don’t evaluate what we learn. It just becomes part of us.  And there are cases where we have been directly taught that certain boundaries are appropriate when in fact they are never what God intended. Regardless of where boundaries have originated from, there is no one else to blame once I accept them.
Face it. I have claimed the territory. Once I have accepted the boundaries and begin to live inside them, then I have claimed that territory.  Over time I settle in to the prescribed expectations. I behave within the limits and I cease to explore options that exist outside those borders. Life becomes small and predictable.  No one else did that to me. I have claimed it for my own. I am the one who has built my life on it.
When I began to realize that God’s territory for me was so much larger than the life I had accepted, I had an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. I realized that all the time that had passed before could have been different. I felt like something had been stolen from me, kept from me. I wanted to blame those who had taught me that certain areas were not available to me because I am a woman. It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that to blame would be a waste of time and energy. I couldn't do anything to change the past, but I could make a decision to live differently in the future. I could begin to explore the perimeter of what I had previously accepted as my boundaries.
Time to explore the edges. What about you? Have you tried to blame others for your decision to live a life that is smaller than God intended for you? Have you begun to realize that you have claimed territory that limits your ability to fulfill your God-given purpose? I am encouraging you to begin to explore the perimeter of the parameters you have accepted. Begin to imagine what life might be like when you start to step outside. Radical change begins by taking small steps. It begins by exploring the possibilities that exist outside what I have accepted as normal. Radical change begins with daring to dream that life can be different.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Inside vs. Outside the Box

Before we begin to really discuss living “outside the box” we need to take a little time to define what it means to be “inside” or “outside” the box. If living “outside” the box is the goal, what makes living “inside” the box something to leave behind?
What is “inside”? What’s wrong with living “inside the box”? Well…nothing really, except there is a good possibility that if you are living inside the box you are living far below your potential, below God’s intended purpose for your life. To live “inside the box” is to live inside perceived or actual limitations imposed on us by ourselves or someone else. It’s a way of thinking and seeing the world. It’s a way of thinking and seeing ourselves. We may not even realize that we are living below our potential because living inside the box can be very safe and comfortable. We may feel content, but in actuality we may be living far below true satisfaction and God's highest plans for us.  Living inside the box can make my world so much smaller than it was ever intended to be. Believe me, I have been there living in that small world, and truthfully, I didn't want to leave.
What is “outside”? To live “outside the box” is to begin to see possibilities that you never dared to imagine for yourself and to begin to take the necessary steps to actually achieve them. When we start to take those steps, we begin to envision a life that is more fulfilling and satisfying. As each step takes us closer in pursuing what seemed an impossible dream, the dream begins to seem much less impossible.  With each baby step outside your perceived boundaries you begin to see yourself as capable of achieving the dreams that you have never uttered to another soul. What is really awesome is that on the road toward pursuing the first dream, other long-forgotten dreams begin to re-awaken and suddenly seem less impossible as well. And most awesome of all, you begin to taste the possibility of a totally different you.
What happens when I live inside the box? As a box-dweller, I was content, comfortable, but not satisfied. I knew God wanted more for me, but I didn't necessarily want it for myself. I accepted the limitations that were handed to me. I never thought of dreaming outside those limitations. As I journeyed on, I became aware that God had bigger dreams for me, outside those perceived boundaries. It was safe inside the box. I knew what was expected of me and I knew what to expect of life. I didn't want to leave my box, but I knew that if I wanted to fulfill God’s purpose for my life, then I needed to step outside.  It took a while, but eventually,  I began to dream, to do and to be more than I imagined possible.  
Are you “in” or “out”? So, what are the limitations you perceive? Are they real, or is there a world of possibility outside your box?  You may be content, but are you truly satisfied? Are you living God's purposes for you? Explore your possibilities.

Dare to dream. Dare to do. Dare to be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out of the Box

I have taken a pretty significant break from blogging. Not because I've been exceptionally busy. I’m always busy. I felt my blog needed to be more focused and purposeful. So I've waited until I felt I had a better handle on what to write about and why.
From here on out “Real Life Chats” is designed to encourage and inspire you to live “outside the box”, reach beyond your perceived boundaries and be all that you were intended to be, all that God created you to be. Even if I don’t say it specifically, I am sharing my journey with you.
Dare to dream. So what does it mean to live “outside the box”? First, it means that you dare to dream. Those little daydreams that you ignore…take a look at them. Inside those daydreams is the kernel of a real dream deep inside you. Many of us don’t allow ourselves to dream. It’s impractical. It’s dangerous. If we pay attention to our dreams we might begin to feel dissatisfied with life as it is and when we feel dissatisfied, we are uncomfortable. When we feel uncomfortable, all we want to do is get comfortable again.
As a fellow box lover, I understand. It’s scary out there, outside the box. The box is safe and comfortable. I know where the boundaries are. But outside the limits of the box is a fulfillment that is not possible inside it. Take the risk. Dare to dream.
Dare to do. The good thing about feeling uncomfortable is that you become motivated to do something. At first, you’ll probably try to go back to things the way they were, which is usually impossible. Then you are forced to try something new. Why wait until the circumstances force you to explore? Go for it! Start moving toward your dream. You make progress one step at a time. Before you know it you will be so far beyond the borders of your box that there will be no going back. Take a step. Dare to do.
Dare to be. What happens as you take your risks, step outside your box? You begin to change. Not only have you moved toward your dream and done some things you never thought were possible, you begin to see life differently. You begin to see yourself differently. When you see yourself differently, you begin to see life differently.
Are you ready?  Stepping outside the box starts with a decision. Your decision. Others can pull you out and you’ll experience some of the same feelings. However, it’s only by your own choice to step out that you will fully experience the freedom and fulfillment that is available. It’s the difference between choosing to dive into a cool, pool of water and being pushed. Make the choice. Dive in. Live outside the box.

Remember, I am sharing my journey with you. More details in the weeks ahead!

Dare to dream. Dare to do. Dare to be.