I’d never heard of a God Box until I read Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver. Tosha describes it as a place where you can place your worries and concerns. You write them on a piece of paper and place them inside the box. Once the worry or concern is out of your mind and body, and down on paper, you feel less burdened and more free.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I was raised without any religion nor belief in any particular god and I’m grateful for that. I don’t engage in organized religion, though I’m fine that other people do. So, having a God Box seemed to me to be a good mental health exercise rather than a chance to convene with the Divine.
I tried it for the first time last October and was surprised by how many worries came pouring out. I think I wrote something like twelve notes that first time. It felt good to write each one. After folding each note into a small square, it also felt good to place it into my designated God Box (a beautiful ceramic bowl with lid made by Tacoma-based artist, Reid Ozaki).
Tosha wrote in her book that it’s helpful to keep putting in more notes, even if it’s the same note, as long as you continue to have the worry or concern. It’s good to write down the worry as if it’s been taken care of.
So, I kept at it.
Then, about a month later, something happened that made me rethink everything.
One note I put in my God Box was regarding a relative I’d had issues with for years. Things had become so bad between us that we didn’t see each other for a year (this is someone I used to see regularly, every month). Four years ago, there was a general malaise building between us, and then suddenly, one interaction sent us both over the edge. It didn’t seem like our relationship would ever recover.
Nearly four years later, I wrote the following on a piece of paper on October 18, 2018 and put it into my God Box.
Divine Spirit, please release my karma with XXXXXXX by forgiving her and myself. Free me from anger, bitterness, and resentment. You alone are my complete source for abundance and compassion.
Within four weeks, an opportunity came up that would allow my relative and I to spend some time together, just the two of us.
At first, I was anxious and wanted to say no. We hadn’t spent time alone, just the two of us, for nearly four years. We avoided each other at family gatherings–quite challenging since they’re usually very small–but this was a chance to spend about an hour or so with each other doing some shopping, and after mulling it over, I said, yes.
It went well.
It actually felt like our interactions had felt like before the rift began. It was even, dare I say it, more friendly than before. I was shocked. Truly shocked.
This happened the week before Thanksgiving.
Then, remarkably, Thanksgiving went well too.
The next month at our Christmas gathering–which had been rife with tension in the past, sometimes between me and this relative, and other times between other family members–the day was cordial and friendly, with many laughs.
It felt like a small miracle. (I say “small” because in the grand scheme of things, it is small, but to my life, it felt huge.)
In the new year, I dug through all the folded-up slips of paper in my God Box and found the note I had written on October 18th. Reading it filled me with a sense of wonder and renewed faith.
Perhaps writing the note had shifted the way I approached my relative?
Perhaps she could sense it and responded in kind?
Perhaps she had reached a point in her life where she wanted to forgive and move on too?
I don’t know.
All I know is if the Divine could have given me a bigger gift for the holidays last year, I don’t know what it could have been. This was a gift that I didn’t know was even possible and I wrote it down without much hope that it would come true. Believe it or not, it came true.
It stopped me in my tracks. It made me realize that whether writing notes to a God Box was a good mental health exercise or a way to convene with the Divine, it didn’t matter. I just knew I was going to keep doing it. And, I have.
Have you ever had a God Box or something like it? Do you write down your worries for the Universe to work on? Did anything change for you?
ps. I bought my covered bowl from Reid Ozaki at the annual Tacoma Studio Tour before I knew what I was going to use it for. I was just drawn to it and bought it. Later, when I read Outrageous Openness and came across the chapter about God Boxes, I realized it was the perfect vessel to hold my worries.
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a novel that asks, can enemies become friends? She is also the creator of Fear & Writing, a workshop for procrastinating writers from all walks of life.
Photos of God Box by Peg Cheng. Photo of Peg & Reid Ozaki by Marcus Donner.
Rebekah Nemethy says
I too have been without religion for most of my life (although I was raised within a specific religion, as soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions I strayed away from that path). But I can totally relate to this experience. I’ve had my own unexplained “blessings” for lack of a better term. Wishes come true? Prayers answered? It’s hard to come up with terms that are free of religious links without it sounding like fiction (I mean only genies grant wishes right?)
Well I do believe that things manifest in mysterious ways, and I love that you shared this story, as it’s a perfect example of the power we have to change our lives.
I’m curious, though, what do you do with the papers once you’ve filled up your box?
Peg Cheng says
Thanks for writing in, Bekah! I’m glad to hear that you’ve had your own set of unexplained blessings. Wonderful. When my God Box starts to get full, I go through all the notes and shred the ones that are no longer needed–as in they came true or it’s about something that is no longer a worry. Some notes I save though–like the one I just wrote about in this post–because they are so significant.
Catherine Eaton says
I love this very tangible action to take when a situation in life (or life itself) is just too much. I’ve learned to do something similar as a way of coping with PTSD when the anxiety is too much: I turn my burden (usually of a terrible memory I can’t cope with) over to the Universe and ask that she’ll take care of it and then I let it go as best as I can.
I’m definitely going to add the God Box technique because there’s something so powerful in writing and storing it away. Thanks for sharing this, Peg.
Peg Cheng says
Great to hear from you, Catherine! I love your technique of taking the burden of a terrible memory and offering it up to the Universe to take care of. I think it could be a powerful exercise to write that wish of surrender down and place it into your God Box. Later, you can revisit your box and see if articulating the anxiety did indeed help it dissipate. Please let me know how it goes.
ahhh love this so much. And love that you chose your god box before you even knew what it was for. you knew it was special and boy was it ever. LOVE! Thank you for this reminder of how powerful this exercise can be. I need to pull it back into my daily work.
Peg Cheng says
So glad you loved it, Heather! It’s such a powerful exercise. I’m glad you want to integrate the God Box back into your daily routine.
This remines me of a study I read about–it showed that you can clear negative thoughts by writing them down, then physically throwing them away. Interestingly, just imagining throwing them away didn’t help nearly as much–you have scribble, crumple, and toss.
We are creatures made of mud and lightning, and I always want to get by on just the lightning part–thought–but there you are, with your beautiful round box, literally made of mud, getting results in the solid world. Do you do this in other ways, make your spiritual practice tangible? I love how you question it, are unsure how it works, but stick with it because it does work.
The “crumple and toss” thing seemed to help me some, but I didn’t stay with it–I have this idea that I should figure out everything myself, and that using other people’s techniques is like cheating on the exam. (I may be stuck in the wrong metaphor.)
Peg Cheng says
What?! We’re made of mud and lightning?! I always thought we were made of stars!
There is something about making my spiritual practice tangible and in the physical world that seems to add both validity and magic to it. Seeing my note written down on paper with the date on it and realizing that it came true only a few weeks after I wrote it was pretty mind blowing.
I have a thing for writing and then shredding stuff so the “crumple and toss” technique might not work as well for me. 😉
How about you, Edgy? How do you make your spiritual practice tangible? Any ways that you’ve discovered on your own?
Good question. Aside from meditation, I don’t know that I have an organized practice, but one thing I’ve found to be oddly spiritual, and tangible, is doodling.
Once I drew a woman sitting in a chair with a beautiful mountain, and clouds, behind her. There was something odd about the way she was sitting that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…then I realized, oh yeah, it’s exactly like she’s playing guitar, except there’s no guitar. So I took it as a message to pick up the guitar again, which filled a hole in my creative life.
It doesn’t happen everytime, or even most of the time, but doodling is my personal Tarot.
By the way, you’re right about stars, but what is humble, fertile mud but stardust and water? Reminds me of a quote from physicist Lawrence M. Krause, which you’ve likely heard:
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand.”
Peg Cheng says
Love that quote! And I love that you doodle to connect with your spiritual practice!
From the example you gave, it makes sense to me that the Divine is sending you messages through a physical action. You’re such a physical person, Edgy. It makes total sense that messages from the Universe, and your own psyche, would come to you through doodling.