Where's the Box?

March 4, 2015

Ever wonder why you can solve problems in the shower after struggling with them all day?

Your brain works in cycles. A morning person solves problems, tackles questions and makes decisions first thing in the morning. For night prowlers, later in the day is their peak time for efficiency.

But when creative work is necessary, success increases when the brain isn’t working efficiently. When tired, the brain doesn’t filter out distractions nor focus on one task and remembering connections is difficult. This allows for ‘thinking outside the box’. Other options are considered. That ‘ta-da’ moment arrives.

Is there a correlation between artistic people and their ability not to focus on ‘real world’ issues? Perhaps that ‘thinking outside the box’ has taken over their entire brain?

I seek to understand my children so that I can either help them focus, or make sure that I have enough sleep so that at least one of us can focus on ‘real world’ issues.

I have several children that think very concretely. My husband once told one son who was on the phone with his grandma, "Tell her you miss her too." Our son responded, “But I don’t miss her.” They look at things inside the box and know they must stay there. People who think this way make good engineers and accountants. Don’t we all want the car engine to work every time we turn the key, not just when it feels like it? I respect that. I like that. I can appreciate this view of life.

I have other children who describe my ability to make things work by saying, “You don’t break the rules, Mom, you just bend them to fit your needs.” I have been known to say, “I learn the rules and then forget them as soon as I can, so I can make things work.” Is it any wonder that I have children like me? They may see the box, but it is irrelevant to what they do. They solve problems differently than how others do. They use what they have and make things work. (These aren’t the people you want to design your car engine.) When I want a problem solved quickly, those are the sons that I ask for help.

I also have boys who can feel with me. They feel the ebb and flow of nature and know what works for the entire environment, not just for the here and now. They may not think outside the box but they can see outside the box all the ramifications and do not want to bother the lines of the box. They are good counselors and peace makers. They help us all get along.

But then I also have one that doesn’t even know what ‘real world’ issues are. He loves art. He doesn’t even know the box exists. Focus is not his specialty. Remembering his responsibility is not his gift. He offers an unusual twist to life’s events. I remind him daily that sometimes keeping his mouth shut helps people think better of him. With all his ‘creativity’, I am exhausted. When I am tired, I may become more creative (as the study suggests), but I also become not so nice in my responses to those who are creative all the time.

Rather than resent that this son's brain works differently, I must remind myself and his other brothers that the Lord has “formed (his) inward parts; He wove (him)... I will give thanks to Him for (he) is fearfully and wonderfully made…(His) frame was not hidden from God, when (he) was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. God’s eyes have seen (his) unformed substance; and in His book were all written the days that were ordained for (him), when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalms 139:13-16

God has put these people, who see the box and who don’t see any box, into my family. I must help them focus on what is important. AND IT’S NOT THE BOX.

So whether I am tired and creative, or tired and just crabby, I must focus on God Who made each one of us.

I will take what the Lord has given me, and praise His Name whether I’m standing in the box, on the box, or can’t find the box.

How tired are you? Where are you with the box? Where’s your focus today?

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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