God, Shipyards, and Relevance

996817_10201122301727108_528540248_n(Author’s Note: Though typing this title already made me feel like half of Ann Arbor has arrows aimed at my head, I’ll dare to continue – but first, I’ll hand you this. If you don’t subscribe to my faith, know that this is then coming through a lens of bias. Still, I hope you can gain something, if only a perspective.)

Apart from God, there is shipwreck.

For context, there are two things worth noting:

  1. Until this fall, I had been single my entire life.
  2. Two years ago, I became a Christian and restructured my life around God.

Although Jesus calls me to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind (Luke 10:27), that turns out to be a bit difficult when everyone around you is suddenly getting engaged. A year ago – nineteen years old and still without a first kiss – I sat by as friends and family started relationships, popped questions, and flooded Facebook with a hundred gorgeous wedding pictures.

“Okay, God,” I would pray, first patiently and then less so, “what about me? Where’s my grand, romantic adventure? I’m tired of waiting.”

“Wait,” He would answer, and my patience would renew…

…until the next engagement hit Facebook.

This attitude peaked in November 201insta3, when I left a church team meeting with a visible cloud of bitterness around my head. (That week, the meeting had centered around the question, “For what do you need patience?”) Blinded by this haze of frustration and impatience, I sat down to journal.

I resurfaced two hours later to find that I had penned a multi-page extended metaphor that not only eased my bitterness, but restored my confidence and faith. Apparently the Holy Spirit is also a writer (John 16:13).

In summary, the piece is called “Shipyard”, and it tells of a young girl who grew up watching ships sail to distant lands. When she reaches womanhood, she begins to grow impatient and longs for an adventure of her own – that is, until an old, battered sailor warns her that a ship cannot be steered without a skillful captain. Without a leader at the helm, the ship is surely doomed for a rough voyage. In case the theme weren’t obviously enough, it story ends with the name of a perfect ship captain: “Emmanuel”, which translates to “God with us”.

It is important to know how God-centered my piece for re-purposing is. In class, when chatting with Kaitlin, I disregarded this and tried to brainstorm ways to make the piece secular. As it turns out, pulling a religious piece from its true nature ruins it. Kaitlin’s ideas and our discussion were wonderful, but I still quietly knew that they wouldn’t do.

I chose this piece because it holds a dear place in my heart, and I’m excited about re-purposing it for an audience that is not “my eyes, and my eyes only”. In its original form, “Shipyards” is an extended metaphor. This time around, I’ll be using more research (Biblical and otherwise) to transform it into an article aimed at teens and adolescents, Relevant Magazine style. I hope to take the original message – “be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14) – and present it directly instead of abstractly, using quotes and Scripture to strengthen the argument. “Shipyards” will be made into a piece that is both practical and uplifting for those upset with singleness.

My insecurities lie in the fact that this piece will have a very targeted audience. I can be hesitant to share my beliefs in a class setting, but I hope that my writing and discussions will not cause anyone to feel pressured. If this re-purposing comes out like I imagine, I will consider pitching it to Relevant Magazine, a more specific, Christian audience, in the future.

Above all else, I’m just plain excited and am ready to delight in this project. Let’s go!

Alexis Stempien

An aspiring science writer studying biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience with minors in writing and general shenanigans. In my spare time, I make YouTube videos at http://www.youtube.com/theseneonhearts.

4 thoughts to “God, Shipyards, and Relevance”

  1. During our discussion earlier I didn’t realize the religious nature of the piece! It’s a beautiful story and metaphor with a message that I’m sure many people understand, regardless of their beliefs. I like the idea of transforming it in a way that gives strength to an audience who can relate to your original situation– there is a distinct and meaningful purpose. I hope you find our class is a warm environment that welcomes your story and beliefs.

    1. Ha, aw, thanks for the thoughtful and kind response, Kaitlin! You didn’t have a reason to realize that in class – I was definitely shying away from the original context – but I appreciated your thoughts quite a bit! (I’m still planning on following the movie trailer idea for re-mediating the project.) I’m looking forward to developing the ideas for a relevant audience. Thank you for the words!


  2. Hi Alexis,
    I really enjoyed reading this post – it’s encouraging to read about what is sure to be a successful remediating project. Being in a different gateway class and not having any context to this story, I found that this post challenged me to look beyond the academic papers I have written in searching for a work of writing to repurpose. I am glad you included the detail about the ship’s captain being named Emmanuel, because I originally interpreted the metaphor differently. Before this was mentioned, I thought that the “skillful captain” the woman wished for was a husband. Your metaphor resonates way more with me by having the captain represent a connection with God instead of a life partner. In that way, the idea of setting sail doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should seek out marriage. Again, this is from reading your post with no previous context.
    Thank you for sharing something that means so much to your personal life – it can be difficult to be this open in any public medium.
    -Joseph Kiessling

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