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Identity Multitasking January 29, 2008

Posted by amybeth in Deep, Life.

I was trying to do some homework for a class I’m in on prayer. We were to take one of Paul’s prayers, study it and write a one page summary of what we found…both academically and through revelation. So…I took the passage, looked at it in several versions, read some commentaries, looked up some words in the concordance…and ended up with multiple possible meanings for every phrase…aargh! If it was a ‘choose your own adventure’ storybook, it’d be volumes thick.So I bring in my father, seeming expert on studying the Scriptures and getting lots out of them and connecting them to every other Scripture under the sun. And he tells me that’s normal. That each of those possible meanings are a trail to follow to deeper truth and understanding. And they say it’s the young people who have a postmodern, relativistic viewpoint on things. Okay…I do get his point…sort of. And he did clarify that only those trails that are still within the overall scope of Scripture are okay. But it all seems rather overwhelming to me. Analyzing all the potential themes in a piece of literature, often going far beyond what the author could have possibly been thinking when they wrote it, is what always drove me nuts about English class.

I guess it’s the kind of thinking that goes from the details and builds up an overall image. But I think I’m more a big picture person. I want to grasp the overall idea first and then I’m great at sorting out how the details fit. But it seems awfully hard to get a big picture view of Scripture. There doesn’t actually seem to be one. Sure, there are lots of attempts at presenting what the overall scheme of God was and is within creation, but those attempts are all disputed. Problem is that the big pictures people claim for Scripture have all come from examining the details and trying to build a framework. It’s like being given a basket of fabric pieces, stuffing, buttons, etc. and trying to recreate the doll they came from without ever having seen it. No two groups are going to put together one that looks the same. You can’t even use the puzzle pieces without the box analogy here because the shapes of puzzle pieces give clues to how they fit together that can help one reach the correct result eventually, even without the picture.

So…is building up from the pieces the only way to go about studying Scripture? Does that mean I’m going to forever be frustrated? Is there something wrong with me or are only certain people suited to get insight from the pages of the Bible through systematic study like that?

One interesting extension of this analogy is the question of how can we even know that our pieces, our details, are the right ones if we don’t know what picture we are fitting them into. That’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Anyways, the next day I was thinking about all this stuff and realized that this big picture mentality is the cause of other frustrations in my life. For instance, I don’t do well identity multitasking. I can do lots of things at the same time. What I mean is, I have a hard time being a student, a youth pastor, a daughter, a friend of God, etc. all at once. I do much better focusing on one thing at a time. I struggle to integrate the roles I play. My dad encourages me to remember to take time to spend with God without any particular agenda, just Him and me. But I find now that I’m working with the youth, my relationship with God is centered around how to help them. Or when I’m doing my schoolwork, its hard to just relax and enjoy learning because I’m always searching for what God might be wanting me to do with the knowledge. When I find myself with time on my hands that doesn’t need to be allotted to one of the above roles, I feel lost, unsure of what I should be doing, who I am. I feel fractured, in pieces. I want a big picture for my life, a why I’m here that I can orientate all these other ‘identities’ around. I want to have an overarching purpose that enables me to prioritize the various aspects of my life.

Is that wrong? Is that weird? Is that possible?



1. Hamameliss - February 6, 2008

I wonder if part of the issue lies in not trusting yourself to be right. And because you are thinking of the pieces as having to always go together the same way. Recently, a friend commented on how I paint. I tend to get an idea and go ahead and start at it, and if as it evolves I don’t like what it looks like, I just roll with the punches and kind of adapt my idea as I go along. I think some of it is I don’t trust my original vision of the art piece nor my ability to actually accomplish what I originally saw, but all that does not invalidate that what I create in the end is not beautiful. I think in the end interpreting Scripture is kind of like how I paint, you start somewhere, but that may not be where you end up and you have to trust yourself and God enough to go for it sometimes, even if you don’t know if it will be beautiful in the end and you don’t know if a particular piece really fits with another piece.

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