Meaning Making

I like to think I have good listening skills. I began training as a teenager to be a facilitator and small group leader, and have had numerous opportunities over the years to study active listening and further learn and practice the difficult skill of listening.

While all the work I have put in to become a better listener I know has helped me, like so many things – without constant practice, it fades so easily. I find this especially with God. This week’s story of Samuel reminds me that I am not alone struggling to listen to God. “Give us a king” demand the people, “God is your king!” I imagine Samuel throwing up his hands in frustration for the 100th time trying to explain this.  Yet the people didn’t listen.  They didn’t want to hear it.  They wanted to be like the other countries around them and have a king.  Worse, they felt like they needed this.

So God listened.  (Even when I don’t, or we as a community don’t listen – God does) and God leads Samuel to anointing Saul as the first King of Israel.  We will see how this turns out.

Part of my story is my call to seminary. I didn’t want to hear God’s call to seminary. I was going to be a Program Director teaching non-traditional education at a camp.  Ecology, water, conservation, energy cycles, canoeing, s’mores, worship, and taking a break from life.  Important life lessons in amazing settings. Yet God called me to seminary.  I put it off for years – even moving to Cincinnati to work at an amazing camp (5 high rope-courses, 2 indoor) as 1 of 10 year round educators. It was there in the beautiful ravines of southern Ohio away from all my friends, family, and colleagues I had grown up in the church (and WI conference) that I began to really hear God calling me. I never felt more like Jonah, running from what God was asking.

Funny, I applied to Garrett while working in Ohio, yet it still took me years to get there. I went to work for the WI UMC camps for a summer, and ended up staying 3 years. I called the seminary and put off my start date time and time again, yet they were incredibly supportive and helped me eventually get registered for a few online courses.  Before I knew it, it was time to resign and follow my calling to the big scary city of Chicago. (well, Evanston, but how did I know the difference?)

Hearing the stories of the people of God, such as the Israelites demanding a King from Samuel and God – helps me to make meaning from my own story. Our narratives are so important in claiming our identities and living healthy lives. There are so many things we teach in stories and learn from stories our whole lives long. Faith stories are a big part of these lessons as we work out our own identities – especially as we claim the identity of “child of God.”

The Sunday school teachers, subs, and clergy are being asked to share a favorite bible story or passage with the children over the summer throughout our one room Sunday school. Sharing our stories and stories that have helped us to make meaning bring us closer together as a community.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity for our community to get to know each other better and look forward for the children to also have the opportunity to share their stories with the adults of our church who feel called to be in ministry with them.

In our world of constant streaming communication – status updates, articles, videos, commentary, entertainment, even work and family – sometimes with hours and days of content there can be little to no meaning. We make meaning out of our experiences, especially as children. I wish for you and your family a great weekend of meaning making experiences together, and invite you to join us to be a part of our community anytime!

Join us Sundays – 9:45-10:45 all summer long for some great stories and opportunities for us to do some meaning making!


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