I read a passage from 3 Nephi 17, which is part of the story of Jesus' visit to the ancient people of the American continent. I picked up the story at the point where Jesus is wrapping up a full day of teaching and is saying goodbye—he's scheduled to check in with the Father and then continue teaching elsewhere.
He tells the people, "I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time. Therefore, go ye unto your homes and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again." A few concepts leap out at me in the 2nd and 3rd verses.
WEAK. These people aren't strong in understanding and can't take in all at once the abundance that's available to them. The Lord gets that and has a plan to kindly help with that weakness. I share their weakness, and feel grateful to be similarly treated with patience, understanding and encouragement.
HOME. The first thing to do is go home. Where is home? What is home? Is it a place? Is it a condition, or a mindset? I feel at home when I'm in quiet places that are nurturing and restful to my mind—out in nature, the temple, the library—but usually the strongest feelings of home come to me in my own house, my shared space with Rob, my personal creative sanctuary. It makes sense that retreating to home would be the first step in remedying weakness.
PONDER. The next step is to meditate, examine, use my own powers of perception and reasoning and give them a workout. Sit with a teaching I've received—live with it, try it on. Imagine, reflect. Practice and watch.
ASK. Two heads are better than one, especially when one of those heads is all-knowing and all-loving. There are times when I resist this dynamic, but when I am thinking clearly I appreciate that learning and growing stronger calls for steady conferences with the Divine. Asking questions is vital, as are praying for understanding and listening for guidance with an open mind and heart. It takes work to do this thoughtfully and sincerely, but it becomes a simpler process when I'm willing to set aside my fears, doubts, agendas and control and open myself to new ideas and change.
PREPARE. Processing and applying what I've learned prepare me for receiving more and makes me stronger. Committing to show up and to study prepares me. Taking care of my physical, mental, social and spiritual health prepares me. Optimism and gratitude prepare me. It's my responsibility to make my own preparations and greet the Savior each day that he comes to teach and strengthen me. And He shows up for me in one fashion or another every day that I live.
Enlightenment comes slowly, but to follow this pattern is to displace ignorance and error over time, and it's a beautiful process. Knowledge just can't unfold in a single day. Strength comes and is maintained only through consistent effort.
I'm glad I started studying again this morning. I'm expecting good things.