Today I am celebrating 365 days of consecutive scripture reading! I don't usually share church-y things on our family blog, but I feel this was worth sharing.
Several years ago, 2,055 days to be exact, Nils started his streak for daily scripture study. When he had reached 150 days I made a little sign and 1-5-0 shaped pancakes to celebrate. "Great job, honey! I support your efforts to read your scriptures every day." But, I didn't feel the need to push myself to do the same. Sure, I could be a good wife and support my husband, but I had a legitimate list of excuses when it came to myself. Like, oh yeah, I'm a mom! I have to get up in the middle of the night to feed a baby or change a diaper or something. And during the day, I am like seriously super busy. I don't really have time and anyway, I don't need to study EVERY day. I'm a mom. That makes me automatically spiritual too.
You know, "those" kind of excuses.
Then I heard another mother share this thought. We spend so much time on multimedia, shouldn't we have some time for the scriptures? That got me thinking and I decided to make a feeble attempt to study. Then, the old excuses came back. I'm so busy. I have two kids to chase after. I have obligations and a bunch of other things I can't even list right now that I need to do -- all the time -- So, I just don't have time to read my scriptures every day.
Then one day, a year ago, I was talking to my mom, praising Nils for diligently reading his scriptures -- quickly following up with my usual excuses. And then suddenly I felt so embarrassed. The reality of my lame excuses hit me. There was no reason to miss a single day of scripture study. Not one.
And so, I started that day, to study something out of the scriptures daily and journal the thoughts that come from the day's passage. Now, I don't go to sleep until I have read and journaled something. It doesn't matter what it is. It doesn't matter how long I read -- sometimes I read a lot, sometimes I read something short. I gotta say, I am pretty proud of myself, not just from the spiritual perspective, but strictly speaking about consistency. I mean, I can't even consistently keep up with my blog, my Facebook status (ha!), or.... yeah, there's nothing I consistently do every day that isn't absolutely necessary (eat, sleep... that's a given.)
Anyway, as I shared my celebration with Nils, he asked me two questions I thought were worth answering on this blog. He asked: Do you feel it has made a big difference in your understanding of the gospel? Do you feel it has made a big difference in your life?
I have been "studying" the gospel pretty much my whole life. I attended four years of an early morning scripture study class all though high school. I attended a Mormon university which required all students to take 4+ scriptural classes in order to graduate. I have attended additional scripture study classes offered in the evenings before I was married and joined a women's Bible study group after being married a few years. I attend three hours of church weekly, which started from the day I was born (well, maybe a few weeks after and I'm sure I've missed a few weeks here or there). I've studied the scriptures extensively and memorized a lot of scripture verses. Has studying the scriptures daily made a big difference in my current understanding of the gospel? Not in a way that would blow your hair back. But there have been plenty of amazing things I learn and re-learn by taking the time to personally sit down and consult God's word. I say this only to emphasize that what drives me to read my scriptures daily isn't necessarily to learn some buried detail about Jesus or God that I didn't know before. The "resume" I just listed isn't anything amazing (pretty much the Mormon standard). The point is, whatever I think I know shouldn't fill my head with the false idea that I know enough.
The biggest change I've seen since starting consecutive scripture study has been in my life as a whole. Not long ago, I found myself really struggling with faith -- faith in God, faith in my religion, faith in my whole notion of the point of this life. I experienced some challenges that made me look at life and death differently and made me wonder if there really is "heaven", "god", "sin", "repentance", and other items on the religious vocabulary list. I found myself in some dark places; sometimes fear-stricken, sometimes just empty.
And then I started reading every day, and it reminds me that there is something out there worth believing. There's something out there that can fill the hole of dark nothingness and give my life -- my boring day -- meaning again. Some days I get that great feeling like someone cares about little ol' me. Other days I find encouragement to face challenges I don't really want to face. Other times I feel a nudge to do a little better, be a little kinder.
Daily scripture study is like having a stronger, better person to talk to every day. And even on the days when my reading is complete nonsense (yes, I'm talking to you 1 Corinthians), that stronger better companion points out something amid the pool of words that makes sense and enriches my understanding of the gospel.
I don't have all the answers to life's great mysteries. I still have many questions that will have to wait until later. But I feel more confident that what I'm doing, the direction I'm facing, is exactly what I want to be doing, and is taking me exactly where I want to go. And that makes a big difference.