Letting Them Learn Their Way: My Story with Visual Faith

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For as long as I can remember, I have had a terrible time staying awake in class. Bible class, math class, art class: you name it, I’ve slept through it. You may think this means that I was a lazy bum of a student but that’s not the case at all. In fact, I hated when my eyes would get heavy and I started to nod off. It was embarrassing and I knew that any information I missed, I would have to catch up on or teach myself later.

This was especially prevalent during confirmation classes. Nothing against the awesome teachers I had for confirmation, I just could not focus in a lecture format. To this day, I still cannot. I began passing notes, doodling, etc, anything to keep my brain engaged. Of course, then I was seen as a distracted student who wasn’t paying attention. I often heard that I should be taking notes on the lecture to stay awake, but that has never worked for me. I produced binders full of illegible chicken scratch–or “notes” that I took while half asleep–to prove that point. I need and have always needed to be doing something with my hands that is engaging and interesting to me so that my ears can listen.

I struggled through high school and college to keep my grades up and I owe a lot of that to my “childish” habit of doodling. Post graduation, I found myself using my doodling to stay engaged during Bible study. My father and I began collecting pens/pencils/markers to bring along with us to class and coloring in the margins of my Bible. Trust me, I get quite the looks when I arrive to a church fellowship hall and pull out several containers of pencils/pens along with my decked out Bible, but I have learned to ignore the stares because, for me, it is worth it. (Check out some examples of my Bible Journaling in the slideshow at the bottom of the page.)

Turns out, I am not alone in this. Many people have found that using art, words, pictures, and doodles can not only help them to focus during Bible study but can help them better connect to the Word and, furthermore, to God. This practice is called “Visual Faith” and it can mean anything from scribbling in the margins of your Bible to painting a canvas of God’s amazing creation. Visual Faith is anything that you create while meditating on God’s word or praying.

FARM is very blessed to have recently established a connection with Visual Faith Ministry, a ministry that is working to aid visual learners and creative thinkers in developing a new habit and skill that encourages their faith walk.

Thinking back, I wish that during my confirmation years I had been given a chance to use visual faith to help me connect to the lesson. I wish that I had been encouraged to “doodle” about the lessons we were learning and the cores of our faith that we were studying. Maybe then I would remember a bit more about “What does this mean?”.

So what does this mean for you?

If Visual Faith strikes a chord with you, do not hesitate to grab a writing utensil and your Bible or some paper and start praying. Start reading. See what verses or phrases God calls you to today.

Or maybe you are a parent and Visual Faith sounds like something that would interest your child. Reach out to your kids about ways that they can use their craft skills to stay connected to God. Encourage them to doodle no matter what age or gender they are and don’t look down on it as a “childish” or “girly” activity. Help provide them with tools that enable them to engage with the Word in this way. These tools don’t have to be expensive: colored pencils and a Bible or a notebook are all they need to get started.

Head on over to  www.visualfaithmin.org for more resources and to get connected to the Visual Faith community. And follow FARM on Facebook and twitter to stay up to date with tools for keeping Christ at the center of your family.

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