Are you a single Catholic? Meet Your Match Today [close]

Prayer & Spirituality

I recently came across a technique for spiritual practice that I just love. It’s called a God Box and  seems to have come from somewhere in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, although there is no mention of it in any AA literature.

I can see a connection to the tenets of AA, though; most clearly as a tangible symbol of the first part of the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” I have always appreciated this prayer, but it wasn’t until recently that I grew to embrace it fully. It encapsulates perfectly what I feel prayer should be: making a conscious choice to live out God’s will, rather than asking Him for specifics. And surrendering to His will is exactly the point of the God Box.

In simplest terms, a God Box is a container  in which we place our worries so we can turn them over to His care. It can take any form. Some people might use an old envelope, while others create an elaborate collage on a shoebox. Stores that carry AA-themed merchandise sell ornately carved wooden boxes with hinged lids.

How the box looks is a personal choice, of course, but looks are not the primary purpose. Instead, what goes inside is the focus of the God Box.

Some choose to write down a worry they know they need to let go of. Some just speak into the box. Some place an object that symbolizes the situation they are having difficulty with. How it’s done doesn’t really matter – again, the focus is not on the object, but on the process. The beautiful simplicity of the God Box is that we are fully surrendering our situation over to Him in a physical, concrete, tangible way. That’s all it is – simple, yet so powerful.

 

Money matters

I decided to use an empty box that was collecting dust among my jewelry boxes. Because of its shape – tall and narrow, with openings only on the top – it wasn’t suited for jewelry, but it made a perfect God Box.

I really gave it some thought about what I needed to surrender to Him. First thing I wrote, folded up and put in: “I surrender my need for financial security.” This was right after I learned so much about St. Francis, but I’d also lost one of my jobs and was terrified at the considerable loss of income

I did this before going to bed. I cannot really describe the internal shift I felt. I just know that when I woke up the next morning, I felt completely at peace. Of  course, nothing external had changed. In fact, I’m still underemployed as I write this. But I’m starting to learn that it’s never the external conditions that cause the angst in life – it’s the inability to accept  those conditions.

Cue the serenity prayer once again!

This particular instance isn’t exactly a situation wherein I need to “accept the thing I cannot change.” Obviously, I’m aware that I still need to find more work.

But the liberating power in the God Box is that it lets Him do the worrying while I can search the want ads. I’ve lived long enough to see that any endeavor driven by panic and desperation almost never works out. And that is precisely why the second part of the serenity prayer follows: in the act of surrendering to His will, we  automatically gain the “courage to change” and take action from a calm, centered place.

 

Pen to paper

I’d already given up my Relationship X-Ray Machine, so I thought of  other things to surrender: other people’s opinions of me; past hurts; a loved one’s struggle with personal issues; and the irrational desire to somehow halt the aging process in my mother. All of them went into the God Box.

Writing each thought down allowed me to articulate my problems  in a way that I hadn’t perceived initially. It felt liberating to fold  up each paper and say, “OK, God, it’s in Your hands now,” and walk away.

Some people who wrote about their experiences with the God Box mentioned how they would open it after a year or so and take out all the prayers. They gained tremendous insight into how much progress they’d made, and how good God is at handling their problems. 

I’m not sure I’d want to do that, because I don’t like re-living past experiences. I can, however, see how this provides us with a useful gauge of progress. In fact, I can also see how this is a tangible manifestation of the third part of the serenity prayer. In looking back at the things we needed to hand over to Him, we can see how much we learned “the wisdom to know the difference.”

Wisdom, of course, is gained over time; and we could only determine that by looking back at the past.

In the meantime, I plan on continuing this practice, if only for the freedom in surrendering to His will. Of course, if these prayers get answered as well, it’s even more rewarding!

 

 

Further reading

Michael Rose reflects on the art of letter writing.

(This post has been read 1,350 times)

11 Comments

  1. Vhie-763540 November 8, 2011

    Surrendering to God’s will gave me a peace of mind, and acceptance of the fate that was determined for me by God. As I surrendered to His will, I clearly consciously determined my purpose in life…no complains but just gratitude for making me an instrument of His will.

    • Myra-785065 November 9, 2011

      This is a great idea!!! I love it!. I try to leave my worries in God’s hands but I frequently forget that I have. Having a God box will give me a reminder.

  2. Anne-238166 November 9, 2011

    This is an awesome idea! Lovely article!!

    • Jeff-406043 November 17, 2011

      I agree. Excellent article and I especially love the “God Box”.

  3. Anne-445674 November 11, 2011

    What a wonderful idea to do, especially as I (or anyone else) am praying a 54-day rosary novena. They suggest you to write down your prayer intentions or petitions at the start of the novena & you can reflect back to them as they may get answered in God’s pefect timing. Blessings to all who try this idea too, of crating their new “God box”. I know I’m going to start working on it! Peace!

  4. Roslyn-80300 November 11, 2011

    Wonderful piece! Thank you for sharing. God bless you in every way!

  5. Cheryl-409772 November 13, 2011

    I faintly remember doing something similar at a retreat in my younger days. We all put our concerns in the box to be put into God’s hands while we prayed for those concerns also. I am currently trying to remember to pray each day for all the concerns of our CM members. I hope everyone would consider doing this as I think knowing that we do this for each other each day can also make a big difference.

  6. Judith-778956 November 14, 2011

    Thank you for this post. I am celebrating 9 years of sobriety this month – and while I am very familiar with the Serenity Prayer – I have not heard of the God Box. This is a great idea that I am going to put into practice. I try to “Let Go and Let God” mentally – but sometimes the nagging thoughts continue. I think the action of actually writing these thoughts down and placing them in a sacred place (with prayer) will be very useful. Thank you for making the Serenity Prayer come alive!!

  7. Cate-291547 November 15, 2011

    Thanks everyone, and blessings to you all!

  8. Ell-696293 November 16, 2011

    wonderful idea, thanks!

  9. Barbara-592749 September 3, 2012

    Had never thought about a God Box but that sounds like a way to get a few things solved and move on in life.

Post a comment

To post your comment please login:

-OR-