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Archive for March, 2013

Bookmarks

Being someone who LOVES to read, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that I have bookmarks. A LOT of bookmarks. Some are incredibly decorative, or have inspirations quotes or Bible passages on them. Some are simplistic, such as a neatly laminated bookmark that has BOOKMARK printed along the length of it in bold, large sized font. Some have tassels, some have ribbons, some have clips, some are magnetic. But the strangest thing about these bookmarks is that none of them are currently marking spots in my books!

Instead of bookmarks, I have cards, flyers, notes, fortunes, pictures, receipts, bumper stickers, leaves and church bulletins in between the pages of my books. I’ve tried using bookmarks in the past, but it never seems to work. I’ll be reading a book, take out the bookmark while reading and slide it in the back by the cover. Then when I’m done reading for a bit, I pick up one of the aforementioned items and place it neatly within to hold my place. Try as I might, my bookmarks collect dust on my bookshelf while these other items sneak between the pages of these books.

I guess I just can’t use something as a bookmark whose only purpose is to be a bookmark. I have a card from my grandmother currently marking my progression in a book for Theology of the Congregation. A fortune cookie paper holds the spot in another book, and even though I don’t need something to keep place in my kindle, there’s a Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker nestled between the protector and the screen. At times, these other items seem to hold bigger stories and wilder tales than the ones for which they are keeping place. Each item acts as a memento, a reminder of activities gone by or yet to come. These are not merely scraps or a means by which I can remember where I had left off in my reading, but something much more.

Even more, while pondering this fact, I noticed that the items in my books often corresponded to what I was reading in some way. The HRC bumper sticker in my kindle reminds me of the stories I have been reading about fights for freedom and equality. The fortune cookie in my Bible is a memento from an amazing birthday party with great friends from school. And that card from my grandmother, with her nearly illegible handwriting and comforting words? It’s held firmly in a book which is difficult to read because of its raw and gruesome truth. When the reading is too much, I can be comforted by the care and kindness my grandmother showed me in that card.

These items, which may serve temporarily serve as bookmarks, are much more than that, because they are touch stones to remember some of the important things in my life. Oftentimes after returning to Dubuque from DePere, I’ll find myself remembering the people of St. John Lutheran by using a church bulletin. In fact, if I were to write a diary or keep a journal of my life, it would undoubtedly be overflowing with these reminders of what has affected me and shaped me. Until then, my diary is split up, a memory here, a friendship there. A family member holding a place in my heart will also likely hold a place in my books as well.

Just as John’s Gospel comments that the world could not hold books listing all of which Jesus had done, nor can all my books ever hope to contain all the amazing memories I have had within my lifetime. Undoubtedly Christ’s actions are far more important, but they were done for God’s people, like me, and that makes my stories all the more amazing because of Jesus’ story.

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Still finding “me”

It seems crazy, but I’m still trying to find who I am in the grand scheme of things. In regards to this blog, I often hesitate to share some insight because, what if I omit another detail that people are inquiring about? Or how will people react if I say something too rashly and then regret it? Sure, I can delete the post, but by then people have seen it. And what if no one bothers to read it? What if they go “oh that same old tune? Bah!”

One major thing that has been stopping me from posting is that I don’t have official clearance to post about my internship assignment site. I worry that if I don’t post, people will assume something is wrong, or that my supervisors are forbidding it. If I do post, I’m violating that trust. In my case, let all who are worrying be assured that I am very content with my site and that I look forward to this upcoming year and with working with my supervisors. So no, I’m not saying where, but not because I’m upset or forbidden, we just haven’t gotten to that point yet. When I ask and receive confirmation, you’ll know.

In reading a few chapters from Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other,” I found it quite ironic that my rebuttal to some of her claims exposed my own fears. I thought some of her comments seemed quite negative concerning the information she got from the youth she interviewed. My internal response was “well yeah, they’re dealing with identity issues in a digital age, but they’d have the same issues in a non-digital world, it would just look different.” Worrying about what friends thought about my ‘favorite music’ on facebook would be replaced with the fear of negative comments when I start singing along to a song I like on the radio and everyone else can’t stand. It’s all about concerns we have about how others will perceive us.

And then it hit me that I was neglecting this blog for the same reason. I didn’t want people to hate me for what I said, what I thought, how long or short of a post, etc. But all those fears manifest in different ways in the non-digital realms of life as well. I’m aware of my miniscule interaction with movies compared to most of my friends. The clothing I buy and wear is based not only on whether I like it, but also on whether it will be accepted by those with whom I interact (will classmates at school think it looks cool without causing my professors to blush because of some inappropriate writing/image/concept/etc. on it?) and if it will fit with who I try to present myself to be (No bright, flashy colors, no risque images, family-friendly funny is a plus) the list goes on…

Realizing the fact that what these youth are dealing with in regards to technology permeates all of life, and that all are susceptible to it’s effects (even fabulous me) made me realize that it’s okay to make some risks, because that’s where we put our foot down and take a stand. It may cause some murmurs of concern (or approval) but it’s a good first step for figuring out what our “self” looks like–with the knowledge that it can and will undoubtedly change over time. In fact, it ties in perfectly with the readings for the Gadamer course I’m taking this semester as well. Gadamer (for those not acquainted with him, he’s a smart German theologian [who I believe is now dead] who wrote on the meaning of truth and method) claims that we can’t really know who we are because who we are is still in the process of becoming. In fact, even after we die, the memory and understanding of who we are will continue to change.

So in the grand scheme of things, I guess it’s okay that I don’t have it all figured out. I may not always know if something is appropriate to say or not say (on the internet or in person) but I can’t learn if I don’t try it out. And as long as I realize that I am a child of God, saved by grace through faith from the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus, I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start. In the process, I hope to find out some great new things about myself and others. I also hope that every comment I receive, whether positive or negative, will be a chance to learn and grow.

Until next time,

God Bless!

(And if it seems like it has been too long, don’t be afraid to let me know!)