They Gave Me a Box

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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man handing someone a box

 

man handing someone a box

I grew up learning about you
I saw you in the love shared by everyone around me
I heard about you in the sermons and sang about you in the songs
I read about you and thought about you

And so I came to you, and you met me
You loved and cared for me
You grew me and taught me
You fashioned me and called me

And I took what you had given me and went back to the place I had first heard about you
I was filled with anticipation – what would they have me do? You had given me so many gifts

Perhaps I could speak about you
Perhaps I could teach others to follow you
Perhaps I could spread your message to the world
Perhaps I could invite others to your table, to take part in your supper

For they had always prayed for you to raise up people of my generation
They had always said how desperately your Kingdom needed more voices, more hearts, more hands, and more feet

So, with anticipation I presented myself to them
Only to be confused by their response

For when I offered them this voice that you had given me
When I offered them these hands that you had strengthened
When I offered them these feet that you had guided

They gave me a box

They gave me a box in which to keep my passion
They gave me a box in which to store my wisdom
They gave me a box in which to put my words
They gave me a box to hold my hands and my feet

They gave me a box and they told me it was your “will” for me as a woman

When I asked if they had a box that fit a bit better, they told me to be happy with what you had given me
When I told them you had given me things that wouldn’t fit inside the box, they told me I must be mistaken
When I asked if there was anything else they could offer, they told me the box was a perfect place to keep my questions

And so I come to you

Me, and everything you have given me
Me, and everything you have created me to be
Me, and everything you have called me to

And the box

I’m a bit bruised from trying to fit inside of it
And now that I’m standing in front of you, I realize that you don’t want me to

And I see that I have a choice

I can keep this box they have given me and throw out all the things that don’t fit
I can ignore the time I spent with you, the gifts you have given me, the calling you gave me
I can dismember my soul in order to fit into the dimensions of the box
I can live for them and let their box define me

Or

I can trust the way you made me, the way you prepared me, the way you called me
I can lean on you for guidance and walk in the footsteps of brave women who’ve gone before me
I can live fully alive in you and trust that you are a God who is bigger than the box
I can set the box down and walk away
I can live for you and let you define me

They gave me a box – and called it yours
You offer me freedom – and call it mine

So I take the box
And put it on a shelf
And label it history

Then I take your hand and we walk away, because life with you is far better than life in a box

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40 Comments

  • Thanks so much Kate. It is comforting and healing to read your words and the words of others here as I have walked through the same fires. It does at times leave you confused and off balance since it does not align with the Word of God at all. I had experienced situations where as women we were not even allowed to lead a group of women prayer. Prayer, one of the most basic and fundamental gifts and privileges given to all saints.

  • Kate –

    I wanted to thank you, and share with you, that this poem was a very integral part of a ministry of healing and reconciliation that I am humbled to have been a part of this past weekend. About 25 saints gathered for a roundtable discussion in Dallas/Fort Worth, centered around gender equality, facilitated by Felicity Dale. I used your poem to help put words and emotions to the experience, sadly, of so many of Father’s Daughters. Blessedly, He then used the time to heal many wounds, release unforgiveness, and call out True Identity. It was very powerful. I am thankful for Him speaking these words through you, at this time. It was perfect.

    Blessings!

    • Thank you for sharing Brandon! What a blessing it is to hear! Praise God!

    • Brandon, thanks so much for sharing that! The Junia Project was invited to that roundtable but we weren’t able to attend. So glad to hear that it was a powerful time. Thanks for being an advocate for women in this movement!

  • Powerful, poetic and precise. I can relate to your journey. I’m thankful for your courage and transparency.

  • Guess what? They have also tried to put God into boxes…how crazy is that? Even the grave could not hold Him, either.

    “The Spirit goeth where it listeth…SO IS EVERYONE THAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT”…no box can hold The Spirit and so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.

  • This touches me to the deepest places raising up cries of grief within. Thank you for speaking for our hearts.

  • Beautiful Kate! Way to not let the box of stereotypes hold you back from using the gifts God has given you.

  • This post reflects so much how how feel right now. I just recently realized that I was living in a box and was disappointed and hurt when I was told to stay there…I didn’t…but the journey is tough! Praying for courage too!
    Great post!

  • Thank you for this, Kate. Beautiful (and resonant, for me).

    • Thank you Cara. It means a lot coming from you!

  • Dear Kate, thank you for your post, it was written so creatively, and reflected heartfelt wisdom, truth … and unfortunately much pain.

    As I paused and envisioned you in the Box, I could only imagine the indescribable loneliness of that situation, and I am thankful that as God’s beloved daughter He was with you in the Box.

    As I read your post, I celebrated that you had the courage to get out of the box. As I view our culture, I am thankful to see God inviting women to realize they are in a Box. And I pray they trust Him and risk getting out of the Box. I pray the hurts and wounds you (and other woman) have experienced from being placed in a Box are healed, and miraculously transformed into worship of the God in whose image you (and every woman) are created. I also pray that men realize that by placing women in a Box, they are placing themselves in a Box.

    As a man (husband, dad, grandpa, pastor…) I am soo sorry that you were placed in a Box. I repent on behalf of men who have been unkind; men who have discounted/limited/restricted you and your voice; men who have placed barriers in living out your passions and all of your amazing God-given gifts. I repent on behalf of men who have not been champions for women; who have not embraced and celebrated women for all the miraculous ways God has wired and gifted them … what a colossal loss.

    Most sincerely,
    tim

    • Hi Tim,
      Thank you for your words. It is encouraging to read them. Thank you so much!

    • Dear Tim –

      How can I express how much it means to hear a male utter the words you posted in your comment?

      Even when we know the box is man-made… Even when we come to understand that the box was created for us by humans and is not of God, still the lies we have heard for so long echo in our heads. The enemy of our souls has a voice that somehow is louder than all the others, and no matter how much Scripture study and book reading and pep talking and self-encoruagement we submit ourselves to, in the quiet or tired or lonely moments, the lies flood back.

      But somehow, when a MAN says what you said… acknowledges how hard it has been, bemoans the lost gifts and years of Kingdom work, encourages us to step out of the box and into God’s Truth, and REPENTS on behalf of other men who may never understand their need to repent… Somehow those words have the strength and power to chip away at the lies and to begin to overshadow them.

      Please, please, please keep speaking up! Please keep saying these things to the women of God around you. But also, please keep saying it to the men of God around you who need to understand the realities and the wrongness of the box, for the sake of our hearts and for the sake of the Kingdom.

      Love in Christ and with GREAT gratitude,

      Susan

    • Thank you Christine. It often does go unspoken, but it is so many of our journeys.

  • WOW! Your poem was so transparent and so powerful and true to you and to so many of us sisters. Thanks for sharing, writing, preaching, caring and telling the story and doing it so beautifully.

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