After recently posting A Big Thanks!, I thought this previously written post, When I Read, would be the perfect one for today. As I mentioned in A Big Thanks!, there were a couple authors of which I had recently read or listened to one of their books. The thing is that, of course, there is another big story behind just those latest reads in and of itself!
I recently decided to change my morning study habits up a bit. Prior to only about a month or so ago, I attempted adhering to the following schedule: wake up before my daughter, pray, then study the Book of Mormon for “a bit.” Lately, I have come to realize that I need to study deeper and for a longer amount of time. I chose to change my attitude from “getting it done” to “setting aside the time.” I noticed that in the quite recent past of my study habits, I just wanted to hurry and get it done before my little girl woke up, and have the rest of the day to do whatever. What a poor way of thinking! How horrible does that sound!? “Yeah, let me just hurry get it in for the day.” Wow…after all I have been given, that was my mentality!? Yeah, I just realized that myself. Well, as we recently heard in General Conference, “It’s never too early, and it’s never too late.” So, after noticing my major folly, I decided to make the change!
I have never been a good reader…ever. In elementary school I, like most everyone else, was required to read very easy-to-read picture books for so long every day or week (or however it worked for certain programs), but in all honesty it either took me so long to read only a few simple books, or I only skimmed them – if it was for a quantity based point program. Reading put me to sleep! If I attended elementary school in this day in age, they would have probably counseled my parents to get me checked for ADHD. Seriously. At twenty-two years old, I had a slight diagnosis from what I considered to be a trusted source, but then I took control – that is another story for another time. Consequently, I just could not pay attention! Not during tests, not during “reading time” – nothing. Luckily for me, as I got older and experienced quite the gap between graduating high school and attending college, I was free from test-taking. And, until I decided to turn my life around, I was free from reading too! But, you want to know the one thing that has helped me better concentrate on the book in front of my face? Reading the Book of Mormon daily… When you hear that there is power in reading that book, it is one hundred percent true. And if you don’t believe it, just test it out yourself – you will.
Yes, there was a point to me stating all of the above, as a peephole into one of my many weaknesses I have chosen to overcome throughout the years. Because reading was one of the most sedating activities ever for me, changing that flaw posed quite a challenge. Even though my Book of Mormon studies helped, it still took years for me to be able to retain what I was reading, concentrate, and follow…and stay awake. Another weakness of mine that changed once I decided to turn my life around was the desire to gain knowledge! Oh, how I yearned for an expansion of knowledge of the world in which I lived. It was not easy for me to decide which school to attend or even what to major in, so I figured I would purchase and read some nonfiction books in the meantime. Let’s just say that going from falling asleep reading to reading large nonfiction novels was a difficult leap – one that was a greater challenge than expected. Too many books have been started and never finished – too many.
I suppose all I can say is that with enough determination, and assistance-seeking prayer, you can literally do anything. After reading words, daily, that emit truth greater than anything I have ever before laid eyes on, prayer, and faith, I have found joy in reading! With that being said, I started on a book a few months ago titled Remembering Wholeness, and I have been gracefully absorbing the lessons within, rather than nodding off and eventually being found asleep with the book in hand. Something I love about that book, more than I can explain, is how much it has answered my prayers. We are counseled to read from all good books, and since I rely so heavily on the communication between The Spirit and My Spirit, I know it is a good book for me. And since I have been praying heavily for an understanding of the mix-up between that little boy, Wesley, I fell in love with so long ago, and the labeled “sociopath” Wesley I witnessed hatching after our wedding day, why would I be guided to read a book that would not be helpful for my righteous desires?
Well, that same “trusty source” that diagnosed me a few years ago was also inspired to mention Man’s Search for Meaning to me. After years of putting it off, I recently started reading that book as well! I quite enjoy good friends who are willing to share their books. That book too is an answer to my prayers… Though that child I once knew may have not been beat by Capo in concentration camps, he endured and witnessed things that pains my heart to even remotely attempt fathoming. Once again, another story for another time. But, I also can’t help but to think about how fortunate I am. Of all the times and places I could have been born, I was born in a free land with opportunities of all sorts in every direction! I was born in a time when I was taught to read in school, privileged enough to attend school, and having the opportunity to learn and grow every single day at the touch of a little icon on a screen I can hardly understand the inner workings of titled “browser!” And, although all those blessings have been bestowed upon me due to only those two variables of time and location, what I read in Frankl‘s book largely increases my empathy for the many less fortunate than I.
“What is the point to all this?” you may be asking yourself. How can I narrow it down? There is much to be learned from any one instance in a person’s life. I suppose the broadest moral of this story may be that any weakness, no matter how big or small, can and will be made into a strength through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He knew how I felt when I couldn’t read as quickly as was expected of me. He experienced the same difficulties I did when I wanted to take interest in things, and felt too handicapped to do so. He understood the physical hardships I struggled with when I was supposed to complete a simple task. And He did so voluntarily. He loved me (and still does) so much that he chose to feel my every pain – your…every…pain – so I could call upon His mercy to assist my Father and I in helping me become a better person. Now, because of Him, my weakness was made into a strength.
I no longer quickly study the Book of Mormon to start my day off. I now adhere to this schedule: converse with the Lord about whatever is on my mind, in the quietest place possible, for as long as it takes, study the Book of Mormon with a desire for understanding of every word I read, looking up the footnotes, and writing whatever may come to mind in the margins within or in notes on my phone – just truly diving in, then reading and highlighting “good book number one:” Remembering Wholeness, and reading and taking photos of passages that stick out to me (until I purchase my own copy) of “good book number two:” Man’s Search for Meaning. Boy, if I could put into words what a difference that seemingly small change makes for me every single day, I would have to search high and low in every language possible!
Don’t ever give up on yourself. If you want to accomplish something, big or small, do it! Don’t wait – don’t hesitate. And speaking from experience, petition the Lord to help you. That’s what He’s there for! If I can do it you can do it!