We spend the first part of our lives building our container. By container, I mean the structure that holds our early lives in place, the mental structure that allows us to make sense of ourselves, others, and the world around us. The moral structure that allows us to make decisions and interact with others. This structure gives us a place to stand, at least for the first phase of life.

containerFor me, the container consisted of the many lessons I learned explicitly and implicitly from my parents, from the church, from school, and other social forces around me. The structure consisted of the facts, the rules, and the expectations handed to me or placed on me by these important social forces.

Some were straightforward. “Tell the truth. Do your best. Respect your elders. Don’t talk back. Read the Bible. Obey God’s word. Say your prayers.” You have your own set. The list got very long once I started thinking about them. Other messages were more implicit. They were modeled though not talked about.

I value the container that my parents, the church, and my schools helped me build. It still serves as a structure for my life. However, building the container is only the beginning. People who are satisfied with the container are people who do not grow.

The second important part of life is recognizing the limitations of the container, and the process of filling the container with something new that can sustain an adult experience. This only comes through pain. That’s next.