082018OnTheSide

On the Side: August 2018

Little Boxes, All Around
by Sharon Chatwell

Unpacked yet? (Ha! Sorry, just kidding!)

This time of year, many of us in the medical world find ourselves moving from one place to another; following our doctor husbands to new training programs, residencies, fellowships or careers. June and July are the months of the annual migration of doctors, which creates a lot of packing and unpacking of boxes.

I myself have moved at least three or four times following my Dr. H (Dr. Hubby, for the uninitiated). In six years we moved from medical school to residency, residency to fellowship, and fellowship to practice; each time crisscrossing the U.S. with small children in tow. Moving got to be such a habit that, after three years at our current location, I had a strange urge to get the boxes out again and pack everything up.

I would like to say that during the intervening years here (27 altogether) I have unpacked all those boxes I carted around from one place to the next, but I haven’t. There are still some, up in the attic or out in the garage somewhere, that have never been unpacked.

Life is like that.

We go through our lives, moving from year to year or from one project to another, carrying along with us (for better or worse) little unopened “boxes.”

Sometimes these boxes may be good things: unexplored gifts and talents, memories of friends and family, hopes and aspirations for the future. But other times, and more often than not, they can be bad things: unfulfilled dreams, loneliness, fear, isolation, frustration or even more dreadful stuff.

What do we do with them? Is it okay just to drag them around forever? Moving them around with us like priceless heirlooms? Providing space for them to occupy in our lives? Paying the price of carrying them around and around, endlessly?

What if we opened them? What if we let them loose? What if we stopped peaking inside and then taping them up again, trying to keep them unnoticed by others or ourselves?

Little boxes, all around, can’t all be healthy. In medicine, we say that it is wise to “incise and drain” some things. Opening them up, letting sunlight and allowing air into them is the only way to cure some of the problems we have.

Some of our little boxes, if left to themselves too long, can start to fester. There are only so many times you can force back the frustration, or the loneliness, or the isolation you may feel. No matter how tightly you seal up that box, or how much duct tape you use, sometimes the box begins leaking into your life.

Side By Side does a great job in helping women married to doctors reach out to one another for acceptance and understanding. Prayer, fellowship and actual physical support can be special delivered to you through your local chapter.

Churches are great sources of solace as well. Talk to your pastor or priest, explain the challenges you are facing and ask what resources are available to you from the church to help you with them.

But our first and best move is to bring all of those little boxes to the Lord Jesus.

We can feel free to bring all of our problems and issues to Him; whether they are unfulfilled dreams or shame-filled pasts. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that we can cast all of our anxiety on Him “…because He cares for you” (NASB.) Jesus knows all about these things, which we keep boxed up and hidden away, and He loves us anyway.

He loves us so dearly that He came so we “...may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b, NASB).

It is to Him that we must give all of our unopened boxes; no matter if we have an armful or a moving van full. And one by one, in turn, He will help us open them and make the best use of them or expose them to air and sunlight, until they heal up and go away.

In my home, as well as in my life, I have many unopened boxes. Some are filled with treasures I am waiting to give to someone, others are filled with old things that no longer matter. The latter are the ones that cause me a pang of defeat when I run across them. Sometimes I feel so guilty about them that I move them from one place to another in the house, hoping I can go on ignoring them for a little while longer.

Thank you, Jesus, that you don’t let me ignore them forever. Thank you that every once in a while, in your wisdom, you drag one of these boxes out, and incise and drain it, so that it can heal. Oh, Great Physician, I give all of these burdens to you.


Sharon is a physician spouse and a collector of boxes, who lives in beautiful Lincoln, Nebraska. She invites you to reach out to Jesus and to your sisters-in-Christ to help you deal with the daily stresses of being a doctor’s wife. God bless you…and pass the box cutter!

Christian Medical & Dental Associations®

About Christian Medical & Dental Associations®

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations® (CMDA) is made up of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and the Christian Dental Association (CDA). CMDA provides resources, networking opportunities, education and a public voice for Christian healthcare professionals and students.

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