I'm no scriptorian by any means, but every now and then I feel like Heavenly Father really reaches me in my scripture studies. Most of the time I am lucky just to be able to open my scriptures, much less truly dig in them. And even less, I actually feel something. I know, I'm horrible, but I am doing the best I can do. Sometimes the best I can do is to just go through the motions of reading my scriptures, and that just has to be good enough for now.
However, a few days ago I read "The Battle in Our Brains" over at Segullah that seemed to describe exactly what was going on in my mind lately. Recently, I have felt a great need to unplug. Basically, I want to spend less time on my smartphone playing on facebook. I find myself checking facebook and my email on my phone any time I have a little break. Even if it's a 30 second commercial break while we are watching Picket Fences on Hulu, I feel an urge to check my phone. I have felt that this is really not very good for me, so I have tried to remember those other things I liked to do for fun before I had a smartphone. Then I read that article which combined reading scriptures and learning to unplug in one article. Score!
The author says that in order to combat the urge to always check my phone I need to spend more time in the scriptures. What should have been a "Duh!" moment and something I have been doing was an "Aha!" moment instead. I just didn't think about it the right way. Somehow reading this particular article was what I needed at the time. In this article she lists four steps to really effective scripture study.
1. Pray before you begin.
2. Really immerse yourself in the text. Read and cross-reference.
3. Jot down any and all impressions no matter how random or out of place they seem.
4. After awhile, read back over your notes and look for trends and patterns. You will see what the Holy Ghost is trying to teach you.
Awesome sauce! I did number 1 really well and number 2 horribly. Number 3 and number 4 have been non-existent.
After reading this article, I pulled out my old notebook labeled "Scripture Study Notes." My first entry in this book was March 5, 2008. I took notes faithfully every day for several months until July 9, 2008 where my only note was "Seven more days!" Seven more days until what?
Seven days later, Robbie and I got married.
And the next entry in my scripture study notebook was January 6, 2009. Six months! What happened in those six months??? Well, marriage and my first semester of graduate school when I was living in Houston and Robbie was still in Baton Rouge happened. I'm sure I read my scriptures, but I didn't really dig into them. And I obviously didn't take any notes.
I kept notes pretty faithfully until March 9, 2009. And then, not again until last week. Sigh. It has been three years since I have feasted and really dug into the scriptures. THREE YEARS!!! That is....really sad. Now, I have read them. I have pondered. But I haven't taken notes or jotted down my impressions. I am missing a key ingredient by not jotting down my impressions!
Yesterday I had quite the impression that I wanted to share. Since we have been married, we have been unorganized when it comes to our finances. We've struggled and feared and have just been plain unorganized. To make a long story short, we are still poor as dirt, but we are more organized about our finances and there is less fear involved. I really feel like the Lord is helping us in this matter, but we still have a long road ahead. With Robbie's job change over the summer, we have experienced greater relief and happiness in some areas but more fear and struggling in other areas. Money has always been an issue, and it is even more of a concern now as we have even less of it. We would not be able to make it without the Lord's help. Not at all.
Before I read my scriptures yesterday, I prayed. I prayed a little more fervently than I usually do. I admitted that I felt like I have been holding something back, though I could not describe what that something was. I admitted that what I really wanted was the means to be able to take care of everything financially without asking for help. I also admitted that I was afraid that instead of changing our situation and making it better, I was afraid that Heavenly Father would change ME and make ME better. This seems silly, but I was afraid that Heavenly Father would change my attitude so that I would be okay with the situation that we are in now rather than change the situation that we are in now to be better. But I suppose if He changed ME, then it wouldn't matter what our situation was. I've been resisting being changed by Him I suppose. I suppose that something that I have been holding back was my desire to be changed. Well, I turned it over to Him yesterday.
I've heard some of my fellow Christian friends mention "turning it over to the Lord," and I admit, I didn't quite understand what they meant. I mean, I intellectually understand it, but I suppose my heart didn't truly understand it. Don't get me wrong, this is not something that comes naturally and easily to me. I will have to practice this more. It's not something I really want to practice, but I know it is something that I need to practice.
Back to my prayer. I admitted my fears, and said I was willing to be changed, and well, yesterday I was changed. I almost didn't even notice. Then I realized last night that my attitude about our situation was pretty good. It was a subtle change, but I liked it. I told Robbie about this, and I told him I'd probably need to pray about this again and again and again.
After my more-fervent-than-normal prayer, I opened my scriptures to Helaman 12 in the Book of Mormon. It wasn't any kind of inspiration or anything, that was just where I was in my studies yesterday. I read,
"And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him."
After all that, after praying to prosper and asking for a change of heart, I read this scripture that tells me what to do. Instruction manual for life, those scriptures are!!!
The rest of that chapter was just wonderful for me yesterday. I truly felt like the Lord was speaking to me. I heard somewhere that prayer is how we speak to the Lord and scriptures are how He speaks to us. It's like, I said what I needed to say, and then through the scriptures, He said exactly what I needed to hear, and I didn't even have to dig for it. That doesn't usually happen to me. I've heard stories where people just let the scriptures fall open where they're going to fall, and it's exactly what they need to read and hear. I suppose that you could let the scriptures fall open and odds are, there's something "good" in them. But, ya know, if they happen to fall into those Old Testament parts where they are describing laws about sacrificing animals or whatever, I'm just not gonna feel it. Sorry. I'm not that good yet.
But anyway, has thinking about studying scriptures in a different way helped me with my obsession with facebook on my smartphone? Maybe a little. I still check it, but I can feel it's hold on me weakening, and that's great!