Thursday, May 28, 2009

There were many days this past year, i really wished I could go back to being four feet tall. So many less decisions to make, less responsibilities to be held accountable to and the future never seemed uncertain. This senior year, everything happening seemed to be asking the question 'what are you doing with your life?' 'where are you going?' It wasn't like the end of high school, when all these questions were exciting. Instead of wanting to answer the questions, I answered them because I had to, because the times came up when I had to decide.

Do I go to grad school? Where would I apply? Do I work? Who would want me? When do I even have time to be applying and searching? Where do I go? Where am I meant to go? What is a meaningful future to pursue? 

There was a certain peace that came with knowing that a God who cares and knows my purpose already had it all figured out. But my relationship with him this year has been... well... pretty terrible. It was hard to hear his comforting and guiding voice when all I could think about was my shame and all the things I've done that hurt him. I'm far from the good little church girl that some think i am, and it's hard to feel hopeful about the future at a time when I've never felt like more of a failure. It's kinda strange... feeling like a failure in the midst of attaining what most would consider great success. 'sophia, what are you talking about? you're going to harvard next year for crying out loud.' 

I guess it depends on what you value. To me security always comes from knowing I'm on the right path. Big name schools, having a job, good grades, having a plan for the future... all those things could easily fall apart and not be all they promise to be. But jobless, uncertain, rejected, and on the right path... I could still know there's a good future waiting.

God was faithful though. I guess that's no surprise for a God who promises to be faithful even when we are not. I've learnt that God is the only one who will not go back on his word, the only one who I can truly expect to keep his promises. I don't know how many times I've heard Christians asking, 'how do i know what God's will is? how do i know it's not just me hearing things that i want to hear?' I know I've asked that question. It's like we think it's this enigmatic puzzle that we have to struggle to solve. But its not like God is trying to hide his will; he wants us to know it. This grad school thing was one place where i felt like I could see God just laying out the bricks to the path. 

Although I'm terrified of heading back into studio so soon... I feel certain that it's where I'm called to go. I did struggle with the question of whether I just wanted Harvard to be the right answer because of my own pride and my own desire for the status it symbolizes, but its never been something I've sought after for myself. And of all the periods of my life, this year was probably the best one i could be in to be making the decision. Freshman through Junior years I learnt humility in realizing that there are so many other talented and amazing people that can do more than I could even imagine doing; but this year I learnt humility in realizing how weak I am... how much I don't really deserve to be blessed with admission to any top architecture programs. 

The first thing was the coincidence of a spring break internship in Boston. I chose to go there based on it being the only typical interning city where I had free lodging. There were no other really compelling reasons for me to want to be in such a cold place in the middle of winter, but maybe God had his own reasons. I... really liked it. It was the same sense I got when I first visited Ann Arbor and I knew it was somewhere I could see myself.

And then there was the strangeness of being admitted to Harvard but not Princeton, Yale, or Cornell (until later)... leaving the decision between Michigan and Harvard. In a way it felt like God saying 'look, you don't deserve this, your work is not even strong enough for these other architecture schools, but I'm opening this one door for you.' ...The fact that this happened to be the year where the ivy leagues decided to try to make their education more affordable also opened up the financial door... a surprise from a school I'd heard does not usually give out much money.

Lastly, all the places most people would turn to for advice about their futures pointed me the same way too. Advice from trusted friends, advisors, and professors who know my work pushed me to leave, to explore my potential at a school that satisfies my educational and career interests more than Michigan has.

The decision was actually a lot harder than I'm making it sound... and for a while Michigan was actually the better choice in my mind... but looking back, I see God working to help lead me in a certain direction. To those confused about God's will I would say to 'look and listen' because it's not so very hard to find.


Are natural disasters a sign of God's judgment? It seems like anytime this question comes up in a discussion no real conclusion is ever made and the discussion wanders off somewhere else. I'm curious though, about how one should respond to natural disasters. 

There are some Christians who will blame homosexuals or corrupt government for all natural disasters. In an extreme case, we could look at the sects who will not even treat illnesses because they feel they would be going against God's judgment on the sick person. Gut reaction for me to this is, "errrn, wrong", but why? For one, think AIDS and other STDs. Much of what is responsible for the spread of STDs are the actions of an unfaithful partner. But through those actions an innocent wife and all her children could be left scarred... and judged by the church when they should be receiving mercy and care. One could say that's a different story because it's a consequence to a direct human action whereas natural disasters are out of our control.

So looking to the guidebook: we can see passages in the bible which could point toward either of two viewpoints. God certainly does use storms, plagues, and famines as a sign of judgment. But then there's Romans 8:22 [We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.] which places natural disharmonies as nature being affected by the presence of sin in the world, entering the world when the pains of childbirth did back in Genesis. So, just a general state of things rather than the result of a certain person or people's wrongdoing. In both cases, though, we could say that the cause is God's judgment. Both cases are the result of sin on earth.

We discussed this question when studying Jonah 1 at AIV's first summer bible study. The comment of the night which I found most pertinent to this question was the observation that God works through signs and events specific to a given time-period, working in ways that people of a time in history can understand. In Exodus, the Pharaoh was told specifically why the plagues were happening. In Jonah, the sailors and Jonah were able to understand the storm as a rebuke against Jonah running away. If we look more closely at each of the natural disasters in the bible, each one is used to some effect and people effected are aware of the disaster being the hand of God. While we've been talking about disasters just being a sign of judgment, they are also, and perhaps more importantly, God's way of trying to bring people back to him or to help show people who the God of Israel is. Lately the result of people interpreting natural disasters as God's judgment has created Christians with a holier than thou perspective, judging those who they see to be the target of God's wrath. This is a far cry from the biblical result of bringing people back to God and showing people who God is. If a disaster cannot be understood and used by God as a way of bringing people back to Him in today's times, then it doesn't seem like something He would use to speak to people today. 

I suppose that's my conclusion, but at the same time, I wonder then, how does God rebuke people today? And have I just reasoned God into a softy God instead of the God of the wind, storms, and seas?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The name's kinda strange.... it came to me late at night, as many other strange thoughts do. But it works pretty fantastically! If you don't get it yet, I might as well point out that dye.a.log spoken out loud perfectly resembles some other word.

To me, interesting blogs are always some sort of dialogue. It could be dialogue with self, with friends, with God, with life... So, while this is not necessarily something to keep up to date with what I've been doing from day to day, if you follow the conversation, I'm sure my day to day life will reflect itself through.

If you want to get super metaphorical, the log could represent the mundanity of life; and the process of dye-ing, the bringing out of all of life's colors and a way of seeing life in a new light. But we'll leave that metaphor there for now.

Of course, starting a new blog is somewhat ambitious. Since when do I have time to blog during the school year when studio is in full swing? At the same time, I've realized that journaling is the way that I am best able to express myself, understand myself, and work through the thoughts in my head... so probably a good thing to be ambitious about keeping up with during the busiest times in my life.

Oh we shall see.

I've also devoted another blog just to my design work and thinking about the issues surrounding design. It probably has the better chance of being regularly updated, since its something I tend to keep up with already: