Sentence Diagramming/Spiritual Life

Most of us can remember diagramming sentences at some point in our academic careers and perhaps like nothing else, it evoked the proverbial question, “when will I ever use this in real life?”

Upon reflection, I would suggest that perhaps this is most useful skill we ever learn. The essence of diagramming sentences is knowing where to put the subject and object of the sentence. The subject is that which controls the action and the object is that which receives the action, or is acted upon. Once we understand what is what, we are able to derive the meaning of what is going on. If we mistake the subject for the object, we can absolutely misunderstanding what is happening. “I sat on the elephant” has a vastly differently meaning from “the elephant sat on me.” Getting our grammar right influences the way we interpret what is going on. The first sentence is playful and the second could be deathly.

In our spiritual lives (which is life itself), if we assume that we are the subject of the sentence, we will assume that we are in control. However, if we see ourselves as the subject of the sentence, being acted upon by a good and loving God, it changes everything.

When we are the subject, we pray to God to get Him to bless us (i.e., do things for us and make life better). When are the object, we seek to know God and submit to His will (i.e., His actions as the subject of the sentence).

Seeing ourselves as the subject and not the object is the very core of how we learn to do life … and therefore, how we learn to interpret life. As teenagers, the world revolves around us. It is difficult to interpret life but from our own perspective. True adulthood (spiritual maturity) occurs as we are able to see God as the subject of all sentences and ourselves as the object of His love, able to participate in what He is doing.

This shift in perspective doesn’t come naturally but as a work of the Spirit in our lives as we seek time alone with the Father … asking Him to re-diagram the sentences of our lives. Quiet, soulful reflection is the essence of this deep spiritual work and must be fought for.

See? Your elementary grammar teacher wasn’t so bad after all!


~ by Ted Wueste on September 1, 2012.

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