Soulprint: lifesymbols…what are yours?

An embroidered throw -- like this one, but not this exact one -- is a reminder of my covenant to pray.

I think the Israelites would have conquered the Promised Land in half the time if they’d just skipped building stone pillars, memorials and altars all over the country. I honestly believe they were a nation of stone masons! I’m sure you’ve noticed it too: every few chapters they were building an altar to remember the lesson God had just taught them.

In Soulprint, by Mark Batterson, I’ve been reading about the concept of “lifesymbols.” Lifesymbols are symbols of the defining moments in our lives. Batterson describes an oxygen mask, one of his own lifesymbols. He keeps this oxygen mask, the one that was used when he almost lost his life in the hospital, but realized that God’s decision to save him meant God had a continuing plan for his life.

Our defining moments double as altars to God…Like David, we need holy keepsakes to remind us where we’ve been and where we’re headed….Without these physical reminders, we quickly forget the spiritual lessons we’ve learned along the way. I call those physical reminders “lifesymbols.”And they come in every every size and shape imaginable, including oxygen masks.”

I love the idea of lifesymbols, and realized that I’ve been collecting them myself without having a lovely name to call them until now. What are some of my lifesymbols?

  • I keep all my journals together on my bookshelf. Looking at them — even without reading them — reminds me of who I dreamed I would be when I was in seventh grade (my earliest journal), when I was waiting for my children, and last year, when I was realizing that I’d better decide who to be pretty quickly! Looking at your life lined up on a bookshelf is both humbling and inspiring.
  • Oregon postcards. One of the nicely framed pieces of art in my house is really just three post cards from Oregon. I love my family, and I have a large selection of precious friends and family who live in Oregon. Looking at that artwork reminds me to pray for them and reminds me of all the times they have spoken into my life. I have other frames filled with other places and other people, all of whom are important to us.
  • A handstitched throw on my living room couch comes from Jerusalem. It, along with a stone cross from the year 300, remind me of our trip to Israel last year. While we were there we covenanted to pray for something specific, one of those requests you write on a tiny slip of paper and cram into the Western Wall. Every time I see the throw, bought in the Jewish quarter at the corner of King David Street (Ah! To think such places exist!), I’m reminded of my covenant and of God’s promises to me. I pray.
  • Bibles from my grandparents — all four of them — well-used.
  • Strange momentos, such as my dad’s patient id card for Dana Farber Cancer institute (God was faithful to bring us through!), the birth certificate of the man my grandmother helped to raise (Our family reaches out to take in others), World of Coke 3-D glasses in my parka pocket (friendships are a gift of God, cross generational lines, and last forever even if we only see each other on Facebook).

Thinking back to soon-to-be-King David, he kept the armor of the giant Goliath. Every time he looked at that armor, prayer and praise had to rise up in his chest. When I look at my lifesymbols scattered here or there throughout my home, I’m reminded that God has always been working in and through my life. “I need to identify the story lines that the Author of my faith is scripting for me,” says Batterson. “Lifesymbols are like cue cards that help us remember His script.”

Batterson calls this kind of memory searching “memory management and stewardship.” God has placed these memories in me for a purpose. They are encoded in my brain and define who I am…for a purpose.

“Life is lived forward, but it is relived backward. Part of discovering your soulprint is seeing the purposes of God in your past experiences. The past is not circumstantial. The past is providential.”

What about your lifesymbols? What are they? What do they say about your “story line?”

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