Twice a year we watch General Conference and spend up to 10 hours basically drinking out a spiritual fire-hydrant. And while all the talks of course have merit, there are a few that have been basically burned into my memory and become a pivot point in my life.
President Eyring gave a talk during Women's conference in October 2018 in which he pinpointed the role of women as a catalyst for acceleration God's work on earth. He said, "you will take more time to pray, to ponder and to meditate on spiritual matters...when the family gathers to read scriptures aloud, you will already have read them and prayed over them to prepare yourself. You will have found moments to pray for the Spirit to enlighten your mind."
I. Was. Shook.
This talk was given the same conference weekend where the church reduced church from three hours down to two and introduced the new home-study curriculum: "Come Follow Me".
I remember talking to so many moms who felt overwhelmed at the idea that we would be shouldering the majority of our children's spiritual education - and while I remember feeling the overwhelm, I also remember feeling how right it was. I remember at the time there were dozens of programs, supplements, creative resources etc. that were released to help ease the weight of responsibility moms were feeling (and dads, although President Eyring's remarks were specifically directed at women). While these resources are useful, insightful and much-appreciated, I felt strongly that doubling down on my own efforts to study, pray, ponder and reflect on spiritual matters would have the greatest effect on the spiritual progression of my family.
Although I am a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, up until the time President Eyring gave this talk I had always ben pretty passive about my scripture study. I decided to seize this challenge and really commit to spending more time and effort trying to do the things that would result in those blessings I was promised by the prophets.
I decided I needed to make some changes to the way my scripture study *looked* and committed to: 1) getting up before my kids to read/meditate while it's still quiet, and 2) try to read out of physical scriptures as much as possible. I'm a super kinesthetic learner so this felt like a concrete way to focus my brain on the task at hand.
It. Did. NOT. Go. Well. And I was extremely frustrated. I made the effort to get up just 15 minutes before my kids - at the time they were usually up at 7:30 so I was trying to be up by 7:15. No joke - even though I didn't turn on lights (except for a small reading light) or make any noise it was like my kids could sense that I was awake. And instead of getting up early and enjoying a quiet morning in the scriptures, I was missing out on extra sleep AND my kids were waking up earlier. It became a miserable process, but I grudgingly kept at it. My husband would help corral the girls for a little bit while I finished reading and eventually they stopped trying to get up when I did. Even though I'm nothing close to a morning person, I began to crave that time spent in the scriptures before my kids were up. And If it seems like I'm glossing over this process going from crap to sugar, you are correct. It wasn't easy or simple...I just don't want to dwell on that portion of the process in this post!
I've been doing this for just over 3 years now and it's been a total game changer for me. Now I'm up at 5:30am by CHOICE to start my day in the scriptures, but I've also received revelation as to how I can also use that time to help organize, prioritize and streamline other parts of my day as well.
I asked on my Instagram stories a while back what my followers felt like their biggest challenge with the Come Follow Me program was, and hands-down the winning response was finishing the assigned reading each week. I'd love to share some "hacks" that have helped me! Here's the list I compiled if this is something you struggle with too!
Come Follow Me Scripture Reading Hacks:
Look at the week as a whole and make a plan. Give yourself daily "assignments" based on number of chapters/pages/verses you want to read per day- literally count and assign! I promise it helps to at least give yourself an idea of what the week's load looks like so you know what to expect!
Make appointments with yourself! Schedule in time to read every day and keep that appointment like you'd keep a doctor's appointment. Think outside the box and give yourself the flexibility to have different set appointment times each day/week/season of life. BUT! Do plan ahead!
Contingency plans are key - have a back-up plan just in case your first appointment genuinely falls through and it's out of your control. I caused myself a lot of anxiety and frustration when my kids got up too early because I was telling myself that was MY time, and my only time that I was going to get it done. Don't make up rules that aren't real!
Pay attention to format. My scripture got REAL when I stopped "reading" on my phone (aka telling myself that I would read on my phone before bed and then just falling asleep) and committed to studying out of a physical copy. There was just something that the red pencil-in-hand did for my brain that laser focused my efforts. Maybe audio is a better format for you I prefer listening at 1.5 speed on a walk when I'm falling behind. And I even read noticeably better on my iPad than on my phone. Either way give it some thought and be intentional about choosing what works and what you LIKE. Try ranking your preferred scripture formats!
Get rid of distractions. I talked earlier about making an effort to do my study in a kid-free, peaceful environment...but I have a LOT of other things distracting me besides my kids! I have alarms on my phone and set app limits that prevent me from accessing any social media until a certain time of day. This reminds me of my goals when my brain is telling me otherwise HA HA.
Give yourself GRACE. Trust that you are where you are supposed to be in this journey of becoming your Divine self. Stop beating yourself up for not being "as good" at scripture reading, or doing Come Follow Me lessons. The guilt isn't going to encourage you to do it any more and you do NOT need to be judging yourself like that! Focus more on your progress than your failings. We are supposed to make mistakes, because that's how we learn. So instead of feeling crappy about yourself, LEARN and try again! EXPECT that it will be frustrating and uncomfortable and scary. But it's those experiences that help us become our best selves.
Back in ***1987*** President Kimball prophesied that "...it will be...female exemplars of the Church [who] will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the church in the last days,". The world wants us to believe that the Church doesn't value women, but God has told us through prophets and personal revelation, that women matter to him and the world NEEDS our influence. President Nelson said in October 2015 conference: "We need...women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly,". I hope these hacks help you fulfill your divine potential and give you some ideas to refresh your time spent in the scriptures. We have work to do, let's do it together!