by Lisa M. Wolfson
I have always been a giver. Doing for others brings me great joy. However, along with that joy comes the relentless desire to fix everything for everyone, even while knowing I can’t possible do that.
As a breast cancer survivor, I’ve had to find ways to avoid undue stress in my life. I’ve had to learn to accept when something is beyond my control, beyond my ability to fix it. So I went in search of a constructive way to acknowledge when I have tried my best in a situation but can’t resolve it — at least not at this particular time. That’s when I became intrigued with the idea of a “god box.”
A god box can have many meanings and be used in various ways. The use that resonates with me is having a physical place to tuck away the things that concern me that I know I cannot fix now, or possibly ever. This is where I have always struggled in the past. Things feel daunting and I find it hard to let go of the unresolved feelings. I now write down what is unresolved, evaluate whether I have tried my best, and then tuck it away in my god box. The act allows me to accept that the resolution of this situation is beyond my control and I am offering it up to someone or something beyond me to resolve. Simply put, it helps me feel that I am taking responsibility by acknowledging the issue and recognizing I can’t resolve it.
My own personal god box is a beautiful pink survivor color. It’s truly lovely and I find it comforting to look at. I write my notes on pretty pastel paper to create a good feeling about what I’m doing. This makes the process a soothing effort overall. I put down some words, reflect on them, and then tuck the note away. The act of acknowledging the situation in writing feels more substantial to me than doing nothing at all. Sometimes the mere act of writing down what has been troubling me brings relief. Other times, when I write down something I wasn’t able to verbalize, I find I am able to see the situation more clearly and resolve it. And then some other times, just the act of writing down my troubles and letting go brings me a calming closure.
After some time has passed, I open my god box and read my notes. I happily discover that some of the things have been resolved or that I may now be ready to work on them myself. Sometimes, I use my god box as a repository for inspiration, for notes encouraging me to feel peace or to look at an ongoing issue in a different light. With the passage of time, I often see things more clearly.
To create balance, I also write down things that have gone well in my life, things I am thankful for, and I try to reflect on those when adding something unresolvable to my god box. The act of recognizing the things I can change, those I have impacted positively and those beyond my control is such an amazingly empowering process. Even though acknowledging a situation as unresolvable never feels as good as resolving it, I have learned that it far outweighs doing nothing at all.
Lisa Wolfson lives in Rockville Centre, New York, and she’s the Program Director at You Can Thrive!, an organization that provides free and low-cost support services for breast cancer survivors.