Why My Mom Likes Thorns (an archived post)

Originally posted on my old blog Feb 25, 2011.
I don’t know what Mom was going through. I was only a kid. But as an adult, I look back, and I realize there must have been SOMETHING going on in her life, when she first came across this story. Otherwise, it would not have meant what it did and still does.
For at least 15 years, but probably more, my mother has had a vase of dried, rose-less thorns sitting in a prominent place in her house. They’re quiet and unobtrusive, but distinctly different, And if you ask her what they’re doing there, she will tell you this story…

THE THANKSGIVING “SPECIAL” BOUQUET
by: Author unknown

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

“She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.

Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an air bag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, may I help you?” The shop clerk’s approach startled her.

“I….I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving “Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara…let me get your order.”

She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses; Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.

“Uh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uh….she just left with no flowers!”

“Right, said the clerk, “I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk, “and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement…twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems,” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?”

“No…I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special.”

I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life,” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too…fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment.

“I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” Sarah asked.

“Nothing; nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

It read:

“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the life I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for your roses, thank him for your thorns.

That Time I was Mad at God

This post is for my friend. It’s taken some time to write because I needed time to think about it and then forgot to come back and write it. I never forgot about her question, just never at a place to sit down and share my thoughts.

There once was a time that I was so mad at God at how my life was turning out. I felt so guilty for being mad at Him, so I’d berate myself constantly. God doesn’t do anything wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything I needed to with the resources he gave me. I’d attended all my meetings, I’d fulfilled my callings, I’d kept his commandments. And still things weren’t going my way; instead they were getting much much worse. Almost daily. Family relations were tight. Finances were tight. I kept getting sick.  Nothing seemed to be going right. And I was exhausted.Finally, one day I just gave up. I went for a run to clear my head and the whole time I mentally screamed at God. Full on chewed him out. Told him repeatedly it wasn’t fair and how dare He and that he must not love me at all. Seriously. Stuff we’d be furious our kids said to us. But that’s how I felt. I then sobbingly told him everything I felt was unfair (the perks to running in a small  town: no one sees you bawling in the middle of your run). Just let it all out. And let the shame of my anger go with it. It seemed so shameful to chew out Deity. I wasn’t allowed to chew out my parents, and this was GOD! Totally inappropriate, right?

redrun

Actually, I don’t think it was. Here’s why.

When I had finally calmed down and just bawled while I ran and got it all out, I had a perfect thought pop into my head.

“I am so glad you finally got that all out. Now we can talk.”

bluerun

God doesn’t need shame. Me chewing him out doesn’t make him less of a deity. In fact, I felt such peace and serenity after getting it all out, like I could finally accept Him as deity. It felt like God was saying “I’m so  glad you finally decided to come to me so we can talk about this! I’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been feeling like life isn’t fair. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so badly. But I can’t help you until you’re ready. I’m so glad you’re finally ready to be with me again. I miss you when you distance yourself.” God loves me so much, he just needed me to come to him with how I really felt. But I was so embarrassed that I was mad at God that I distanced myself from Him. Not openly, but emotionally. Shame kept me from coming to God with my frustrations.

What an amazing parent! To rejoice in my anger because it could bring me back to Him. I learned a lot about shame that day. And parenting. And love. And God. He and I still have some trust issues to work out, I’m not denying that. But He’s waiting for me. When I’m ready, we’ll be there together.

So to discuss gratitude: Sometimes we’re not grateful for things. And that’s totally okay. I don’t think we should fake gratitude. It’s like hiding in shame. Instead, find that one good silver thread. Be grateful for that. That’s all you have to be grateful for. Otherwise, let yourself be angry! You don’t have to be grateful for anything you’re not feeling. As long as you do feel it. And if you can’t find a silver thread, that’s okay, too. Just be honest with yourself and with God. Some day, that gratitude will come. It doesn’t have to be today. Just let it teach you.

 

Day 30: Thank YOU

Well, we’ve made it. You’re at day 30. Aren’t you impressed with yourself? As you’ve guessed, yesterday was a doosey for me; but honestly, after so long, I’m still chugging. This challenge has been such a blessing to me.

dareToday, our challenge is to thank ourselves. How often do we do that? I think most people see all their flaws and have such a generally negative attitude about themselves. The world is starting to address that issue, but is only scratching the surface.

In writing out all of my feelings yesterday, I find it funny how much I’ve learned about today’s challenge. In the extreme thick of things, I was so upset about not getting pregnant that I was actually subconsciously rejecting my womanhood and femininity, which was a huge disservice to myself! It was really throwing things out of whack, right down to my hormones. I’m serious, I consciously wasn’t doing it (because logically that would be ridiculous, and I was quite happy with the divinity of womanhood), but subconsciously, I was basically telling myself that if I couldn’t have babies, I didn’t deserve to be female. Big stuff. When I finally put that piece into place and realized what lies I was telling myself, I spent time falling in love with being a woman again, and it has taught me so much. Women are amazing, and I am proud to be one. But that isn’t enough!

I am amazing not just because I am a woman! Not just because I am a daughter of God. I am amazing because of all the things I do that I never expect credit for. I am amazing because no one else is like me. Do you know how much one-of-a-kind items are worth? And I’m worth more than even they. And so is every other person in this world.

There have been studies showing that people are much more likely to keep a good habit if they are recognized for them. They will be much more generous if they have received gratitude some time in the past. Do you realize the potential, therefore, in thanking yourself? Think of all the skills and habits you could master! I think we beat ourselves up for negative habits and never thank ourselves, ever. What a backwards concept, if you really think about it. How do you feel when someone else is always nagging? Then why are you doing it to yourself!?! It’s such a detrimental, yet overlooked thing. I know I’m guilty of it.

In truth, we should thank ourselves for everything we do for ourselves.

Thank you for showering today.

Thank you for getting dressed.

Thank you for looking at the mirror and finding beauty.

Thank you for doing your hair/makeup; You’re beautiful without it, but putting effort in yourself is valuable.

Thank you for eating breakfast/ lunch/ dinner; Giving yourself nutrients is very important.

Thank you for using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Thank you for cleaning the house, I like living in a clean environment.

Thank you for doing the basic things that keep us and our lives running smoothly.

There are really a million things we’d be grateful if someone else did for us (even showering. If you doubt me ask my 85-year-old grandmother). Yet we’re not thankful to ourselves for the same simple acts of kindness.

Let’s put it to the test. See how much happier you are at the end of the day after you’ve listened to mental thank you’s all day!

Day 29: Waiting.

[warning]Warning: This post is two days after it should have been written and it’s still emotionally triggering.[/warning]

Major confession: This is the challenge that is the toughest for me. If something is good, why do I have to wait for it? The only answer I have is Garth Brooks’ Unanswered Prayers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU9ovUxiwGo

(sorry for the TV show playing with it. It’s the best vid I could find on Youtube) My dad was a thorough Garth Brooks fan; had all the CD’s (or tapes; some of them were tapes). I heard this song throughout my entire childhood. Still doesn’t mean it’s easy though.

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And I know people always say you’ll value it more because you have to wait for it. I am willing to say that that might be true. But it’s still not a comfort when you have to wait.

I was hoping from the get-go that by building up to this for a month, I’d have some answers, but I don’t. I researched it to find answers, but the truth is, I really don’t know. I’m sure it’s pride getting in the way of not knowing and not wanting to accept, and I’ll work on that; But I still just don’t know.

Ready for a secret? We’ve been trying to have a baby for two and a half years. At first it was just the “whatever happens, happens.” But with an already-mature 7 (now eight, and eventually 9-year-old), we didn’t want to stay in that phase too long. The gap is forever growing; and it’s growing rapidly.

And I don’t talk about it because it’s too raw. So very raw. There have been miscarriages, there have been months I was convinced it’d finally happen. And here I am, Nursery leader and baby-less. Sometimes I think I’m finally over it and moved on and then something will happen and I’m thrown right back into it, and it’ll prove how so un-over it I really am. And then I’ll spend countless days trying to figure out why I am still so stuck in the same place. I’m not the type to want pity, though; that doesn’t work for me. That’s yet another reason I don’t talk about it.

Pity is so inadequate when your sister calls you Christmas morning and tells you that your Christmas present is that she gets to hold a new baby soon. And that it’s due on your birthday.  Or all of the times your sister calls to brag about her expanding abdomen. Or the incredible loss and shame when that same sister calls and tells you that the baby you’ve been dreading isn’t going to live in this world and knowing that even though you struggled with your feelings, you never wanted that. Or holding your sister’s hand while she buries the baby she rubbed in your face. And then there’s all of the times she needs your shoulder to cry on because she doesn’t have a baby to hold and you just wish you had the guts to lose it and scream at her that at least it was only one! At least she was barely trying. At least she got to see and hold and caress a body! At least, at least, at least. But you know that wont help. And that even though she is naive, she doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. But no one deserves the hurt I’ve had to face, either. And she needs you, and you’re the protector. So you just take it.

Pity doesn’t cover the fact that your ex has had two babies all in the time you’ve been trying.  And that both he and your ex-best-friend he’s currently married to have complained about having so many kids… Before these two were even conceived. It doesn’t help the agony of knowing that they get pregnant with oops babies they don’t even want and you’re begging for a family that isn’t coming. The first one really got to me. I at least had my head on a little better by the time they announced the second one. Wherein they told my daughter (remember, she’s 8), they didn’t even want it, and that it was a surprise.

Or all of the people advising you on how awesome babies are, in case you were needing encouragement.

Or realizing that some of the sunbeams you are watching were born during the countless months you were trying, and miscarrying, and still trying. Or the hours bawling that they’d even call you to nursery! And as the baby-quilt maker for the ward. At the same time.

People mourned with my sister. And I’m glad they did. But no one mourns with me. No one sees my grief. My best friends both know how much I want it, but both admit they can’t really understand. At least they listen. At least they are there for me, but no one else even knows. Because the pain is too real to tell anyone. Not even my mother knows. Well, she knows enough that we never talk about it and pretend the elephant in the room doesn’t exist, but otherwise, she doesn’t know.

I’ve had blessing after blessing where the Lord says he’s so grateful for my desire to be a mother. One time, the person blessing me didn’t even know my heart, started bawling through the blessing and told me that my body would heal itself and I’d be able to bear children. That was a year and a half ago.

And there’s countless conference talks about waiting patiently. President Eyering even gave one recently on having to wait for a baby. I’ve read the talk countless times, begged for everything I could think of, and I’m still here, wondering what my mission in life really is.

And then there’s my husband. At first I think he just wanted a baby because I wanted one. But now… His level of sorrow is just as intense as mine. Mostly more than mine, as now I’m mostly numb.

And I’ve got all of this added burden because sometimes, after years of heartbreak every month, I wonder if it’s all worth it. 9 years is a big gap. And I’m not used to babies any more. And I enjoy my free time. And even though women my age have babies all the time, I feel so OLD. But I feel so guilty for those thoughts creeping in; something I’ve wanted for so long and now I don’t? It’s such a complicated place to be. I don’t even really know if I don’t, but the tears currently streaming down my face could testify to the fact that most of this paragraph is a lie I’ve been telling myself to make it okay. To make two years worth of hidden battles I’ve faced somehow be okay. Even wanted.

That’s why I have no advice on being grateful for the chance to wait. Some day, I’ll change this day’s answer in the Gratitude Dare. But for now… for now this is what I’ve got.

Day 28: Imperfections

I touched on this earlier. Our strengths are our greatest weaknesses and our weaknesses can be our greatest strengths. Do you believe that?

dareI love how Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 12. Over and over he states that God gives us weaknesses in order for us to triumph over them. He allows us to feel the joy and exhilaration of accomplishing something, perfecting ourselves and coming to him. He allows us to create ourselves. If we were already perfected, we would have no need to grow and we would not feel the immense triumph from overcoming an obstacle.

And what if everyone were perfect? Well, certainly we would not need one another. We would all stick to ourselves and never communicate. That defeats a main purpose of mortality: Family. Also, I love that part of economics class when they talk about trade and specialization.  It fascinates me that by working together with someone, everyone can have a higher and more rewarding production possibility. And that’s not to mention the benefits of social interaction and human touch.

But that’s not all. Weaknesses remind us of our Savior and all he does for us. Weaknesses help us look to the Creator of our souls. Weaknesses create a father-child bond that could otherwise be unattainable. What would happen if babies came with all the skills they ever needed? What if from the day they were born, they could move out and go to college? Think of that roughly 18-year gap you’d lose out on! Sometimes that sounds just fine to me, but mostly, I’d miss that happy smile. I’d miss the love and bonds we share over an intense game of Sorry!.  I’d miss  the opportunity to learn and grow from being a parent. And my daughter would miss that and more. She’d miss the feeling of someone watching out for her, and the feeling of safety. Learning would be much harder. She’d never have a connection with me. The same is true of us and our Heavenly Father. Our weaknesses give us a chance to come to him.

And that’s all speaking in a general term. Our specific weaknesses have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Because we see that they need work, and we focus on them. I think of Heber J. Grant and his determination to overcome his weaknesses. He was often ridiculed for having chicken scratch for handwriting; so he worked and worked at it. Eventually, people hired him for his beautiful calligraphy. But he didn’t stop there. He applied the same determination to singing and sports. His weaknesses provided all kinds of blessings in his life. I can only imagine the tests he passed that no one saw.

Day 27: Negatives

Let me tell you about my night. My husband hit a deer. At midnight. I think my challenge is teaching me hard-core today. The interesting thing is, instead of getting frustrated, my thoughts sound like this:

Thank heavens that the “commuter” car needed repaired, or he would have taken it and this would have been much worse.

We just checked on our insurance. That’s interesting.

Ranger wanted new lights anyway.

I’m so glad he was in enough control to not swerve to avoid the deer. Swerving creates so many more problems. I’m grateful he had his wits about him.

We’re so lucky the airbags didn’t go off.

At least I didn’t buy the new headlights for Christmas, yet.

Any more to the front and it would have been serious damage. Any more to the side and it would have caused way more problems.

It’s nice to have good insurance.

Thank heavens deer collisions count as incidents and not accidents, so our rates wont increase.

Naturally, I’m grateful he’s up and walking around. Probably a little stiff today, and his nerves are probably on edge, and I understand that. But I’m so glad he’s not unconscious on a road somewhere.  And let’s not even get into anything worse.

OuchAt first, Ranger was pretty frustrated and “why did this have to happen,” and I can see his point of view extremely well. I’m selfishly glad it was him and not me. It’s his “baby” as far as cars go. But so much has come up the past 48 hrs that could have come up any other time, so if he was really supposed to avoid the deer, he would have.  Maybe it was to teach me about being grateful for the negatives. Who really knows. But I can say that if we were supposed to hit a deer, this was probably the best possible way to do it.

That is all finding the silver lining. That was a previous challenge. But being downright grateful for the negatives like today’s challenge is ironically in place for (Yes, I mean situationally ironic; or cosmically ironic, you choose…  Grammar Nazi still resides in my head)? It is a bit tougher but still quite doable.

dareInterestingly enough, after working on gratitude and charity all month, it’s pretty easy to be grateful for the negatives. Here’s why: When you’re more focused on gratitude, you’re willing to look past yourself. You’re willing to trust that the higher power knows what he’s doing, that there is a force stronger than yourself that has watched over every step you’ve taken and won’t set you up for a fall that you can’t rise higher from. When you’ve spent all month working on gratitude, it’s even possible to see potential outcomes. This may take care of some problem in the vehicle that we were currently unaware of, or might have saved us from some bigger woe. Who knows. I’m not far enough away from the life event to see anything in focus, but I can see that this was not just some fluke in life. There are blessings I can’t see yet.

And then there’s the other vehicle. Finding out that it needed to stay home for repairs was a pretty big bummer. But look what a blessing it is now with a little more perspective. It had a lower profile and a curvier front end. It wasn’t as highly insured. It has less-responsive breaks. The list is pretty intense.

Needless to say, instead of teaching gratitude, today, life taught me.

Day 26: Problem Solving

**Sorry this took so long. I got distracted with my map…**

dareIn my family of origin, I was the problem solver. When philosophers discuss how our strengths are also our biggest weaknesses, their discussion holds true in this personal strength. I was so good at problem solving I solved problems that weren’t mine. In recent  years, within my search for “seven,” I’ve learned to let that go; but  I still have to walk a fine line in problem solving. Sometimes I forget that I’ve still got to solve my problems myself instead of expecting them to be solved for me. I also forget that some problems aren’t mine. Interestingly enough, we just had this discussion with our daughter yesterday. We talked about how sometimes God has an answer that he wants you to find and that we need to come to him for help and guidance, because he can see more than we can. Sometimes, however, like with Mohonri Moriancumer (The Brother of Jared), Heavenly Father wants us to come to him with a solution. Today is devoted to recognizing the difference between our problems and someone else’s. It is also devoted to coming up with our own solutions.

First of all, we must weed out the problems that aren’t ours. While I was processing this concept, it got so complicated in my head, I drew a “map.” Then I showed it to my friend and she was so distracted by the boxes and the arrows, that for her I made it more complicated. Sorry if you fall into the latter category. If you do, create a nice  boring outline and work with that. ;c)

problem

How you solve the problem depends on what the problem was. If there was one cut and dry solution to every problem, it’d sure make life easier, but since we’re here to gain experience, I can be grateful that there isn’t. Let me know how it goes. :)

Day 25: Mindfulness

I can’t believe we’re almost done. It’s the 25th.

In Eldest, the second book of Christopher Paolini‘s  Inheritance series, Eragon, the protagonist, must learn to look past his own consciousness and the things visible by his own eyes to see everything around him. I believe this skill is achievable to everyone, not just those who befriend dragons. Maybe not to the same extent, but still achievable.

To me mindfulness is being aware; aware of where you step, aware of who is present, aware of needs, desires, and potential actions. We also need to be aware of ourselves, our needs, desires, and actions and how they might be skewed.  There is a force connecting everything to everything else. There is potential to feel what to expect. I read a study once conducted by a man named Cleve Backster. He came up with a profound discovery. Even plants practice mindfulness [check out these links! 1, 2, 3]. Plants can feel intentions and feelings.  If even plants can, why not beings created in the image of the Creator? 

dareI’m not expecting anyone to tap the “other 95%” of their brain, but I am challenging people to be aware today. Sometimes I get so caught up in myself that I forget to think of others. That is what I want to push past. I don’t think meditation is necessary. And I don’t think some major physiological change needs to take place. Just think outside the box. Be present. I am expecting that the result will be a huge sense of light. There is less worry about the future. Less stewing over the past. Those are the blocks of mindfulness.

Mindfulness focuses on heartbeats, breathing, and energy. It focuses on finding the connections inside yourself. It promotes good blood flow and good connections to the world around you. Those connections will create a more grateful heart.

Day 24: Pray

It sounds so easy, and it’s discussed so often that I don’t know what more to explain. Pray.  Take time to thank a higher power. More than 30 seconds, and more in words. Thank Him for specific blessings in your life. They should be easy enough to spot by now. It’s okay to still ask for the things that you need, but do it with a grateful heart. We’ll look at thanking God for the things that you are still in need of this week.

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Day 23: Doctrine

Now that you’ve found more time in your day, it’s perfect to add a habit of scripture reading. You may already have a good habit. Mine tends to be all or nothing. Sometimes I do extremely well but I set the goal too high and spend the whole day trying to reach it. Sometimes I don’t even pick up a book of scripture. I’ve had a goal for myself to read the old testament for four years now. I’m about 2/3 of the way through it. I’d like to finish.

dareThere is more than one way to study the scriptures. It’s nice to trade off and try another method and reap the benefits of seeing things you didn’t before. There is an intense study program, like I’ve been working on for four years, where you look up symbolism, study the background, and analyze each verse at a time. There is the quick read so you can see the whole picture. There is the companion study where you read two books at once (my friend reads the Book of Mormon one direction and the OT backwards. She says it’s amazing the parallel. I’ll trust her opinion). There is the topic study, where you pick a topic and research, ponder, etc, by topic (God’s love is a good topic).

There is scripture and doctrine in just about every faith, and no one should feel like they get a freebie because they’re not a particular religion. If you don’t have doctrine, read and study classics. You can follow the same study patterns listed above. The idea is to learn and find understanding in your soul and in the universe. Find your place. Get to know Deity. Reach a new potential.