My wife and I recently undertook a massive, long awaited, long procrastinated project. We sought to unpack what we affectionately called, “Box Mountain.” Box Mountain was a geographic wonder of the Arnone world. It wasn’t wondrous so much for its size- (though it was substantial- probably 7 feet high by 6 feet wide or so)- but more for its unique and amazing capability to physically move. Comprised of “moving” boxes filled with various items, it had managed to follow us from Minnesota to eastern Pennsylvania to Florida to Georgia and back to Pennsylvania again. In each house or abode we settled in, there was box mountain, settled into a snug repository unique to our current circumstance. Box Mountain was painstakingly built over a period of roughly 13 years or so. Construction pretty much began when my oldest daughter was a toddler, and currently it rested in a large alcove in our finished basement behind the kids’ entertainment area and sandwiched in between our laundry room and the stairs leading to the exterior cellar door. (which made it both inconvenient and just a bit dangerous)

We’ve learned to just live life and adjust around box mountain. We pretty much knew what was in the surface boxes but what lied beneath- no one dared to venture into discovering. It was just too foreboding. If you got started on that trek- you just might not come out for days or even weeks. Plus, refusing to unpack these items gave us a convenient excuse whenever our distractedness caused us to lose track of something. “It must be in box mountain,” we would say rather than focusing energy in the unwanted task of searching for a misplaced item.

But, after years of being exhausted by the sight of this growing behemoth, we finally resolved to eliminate this unwanted family member when our neighbors approached us about having a combined yard sale. I had already been more seriously contemplating it’s removal (though, admittedly, my initial plan involved dynamite.)

But- as we plodded along the task of removal that took several days, God had me reflecting on the emotional and spiritual “boxes” that were hanging around my soul. I observed several things:

– The only real way to go about facing your “mountain” is unpacking one thing at a time. You start with what’s most accessible and then work from there.

– As you unpack- you might just be pleasantly surprised at what you find.  You might be surprised at the new perspective you have on something important you thought you had lost. This can, in a way, feel like christmas- “Hey- I was looking for this!” I think this happens when you’re facing a problem and realize, “Hey wait a minute- I’ve faced this before. I remember what I learned from the last time, so it’s all right- I got this!”

– Not all surprises are pleasant. You might find something moldy, like a grudge or a regret. “Ewww!” In that instance- don’t even bother unpacking it. Just throw the whole box out. This keeps the mold from spreading.

– It’s good to look back and allow yourself to be nostalgic. Boxes full of photos and stuff your kids made are awesome but can’t be done quickly. Taking the time to relive life’s best moments gives you a sense of having traveled somewhere with God, and floods you with gratitude. But- there’s no way around it- this takes time and you have to prioritize doing it for it to have an effect.

– Not everything that doesn’t currently have a use needs to be thrown out. One box we found had an old colonial/ americana kinda decorative board with nails on it we used to use to hang our keys up next to our front door. I really liked it, but the house we live in now already had a better version of the same thing. So, I repurposed it to hang tools in my shop. I still see it and use it, which makes me happy. Sometimes, I think we have to change what we have grown accustomed to and rethink what we have learned. There’s an old adage-“If you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll get the same result.” Well- sometimes that’s true. But it can also be true that doing the same thing that used to work for you might not work in your current circumstance. I think we need to depend on God to both encourage us in times where we need to change, but also be creative and discern when our methods and ideas might simply need to be re-visioned rather than thrown out altogether.

– God is sovereign over ALL of our problems. At one point, I unpacked a box of old, broken toys from when my youngest daughter was very small. Now, I’ve fixed A LOT of her toys over the years, but I just couldn’t get these particular ones back to her before she outgrew them. But in every case, she brought every last broken toy to me fully expecting me to fix it. I think we need to be the same way with God. We need to bring Him all of our problems without deciding for our Father what is worth fixing or what isn’t worth His time. What gets fixed and what doesn’t is up to Him. Some problems He will take care of right away, and others might lose their relevance as we grow past them. The great news is- as long as we are trusting in Him and believing He is a great Dad and have faith that He will always do what is best, we’ll still be happy kids no matter what!

So- How about you? Have you had a ‘box mountain’ hanging around your soul somewhere? What kinds of boxes have you unpacked and what did you do with them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


3 thoughts on ““Box Mountain”

  1. My wife and I have a literal box mountain ourselves, after moving into a new house this summer. I also am getting to the point in my life where I think I’m starting to recognize the box mountain in my life as well. I’d like to think of that as maturing rather than getting old! I’m looking forward to unpacking both.

      1. I’m so glad to see this site, Vince! I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on it. I’ve always loved seeing your ministry do amazing things. I still have students on a daily basis talking about the impact the cafe is having on them.

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