Think, Don't Memorize

Stop “memorizing”! Instead, think. Thinking is much more fun, and it actually works.

Don’t Waste Time “Memorizing”

I wasted a lot of time … a lot … trying to memorize Bible verses as “efficiently” as I could. I assumed that I wouldn’t really think about the verses until after I’d memorized them.

This is precisely backwards. You start thinking about the verses right away, as soon as you read them. That’s why we have books, to help us think. And you wean yourself off the training wheels of the book by thinking, by using these methods to help you think.

Yes, it’s grand when you can think so well that you no longer need the book. But the worth of doing all this depends entirely on the quality of your thoughts. You’re not a hard drive. You’re a thinker.

Don’t think you need to “memorize” these verses first before you begin to enjoy new and exciting thoughts. You’re already thinking.

Renewing Is Its Own Reward

I mentioned memorizing “efficiently”. I used to think that “efficiency” meant “getting it over with as soon as possible.”

Now I understand that, in memorization, “efficiency” means focusing on the methods that help you think.

Why does everyone hate rote repetition? Because it doesn’t engage your thoughts. It feels like slave labor. You repeat words until you can’t stand them any more. A few months later, if you don’t renew them, you forget them anyway.

True, our time is limited. We have other responsibilities and desires besides learning the Christmas stories by heart. It is sensible to find “efficient” ways to memorize.

But when we use these methods, when we come to those times for saying verses, we need to enter that time as its own reward.

Learning these verses means that you have special times throughout the day when you think about Christmas. Enjoy them.

Don’t Watch the Clock

Most of the skills I’m teaching you are straightforward. You can learn to follow a sequence of simple steps.

But imagination is open-ended. One verse may instantly transport you to a vivid scene. With another, you may have to mull over it for several minutes.

I know I said that you only need to spend about fifteen minutes a day on this. But don’t watch the clock. If you take an extra five or ten minutes to imagine well, good for you! Don’t rush!

Rushing Wastes Time

If we rush, we’re telling ourselves that this is just gruntwork. We’re saying that we’re not really doing anything worthwhile, that we’re simply paying in installments for a car we’ll eventually get to drive.

This is sad. Instead of enjoying the time, instead of savoring the delights of imagination, we’re snapping on our own shackles. We’re making a little more of our day into dead, grumpy, time.

Even worse, we’re also messing up our memorization. Rushing simply doesn’t work.

Memorizing is a complete experience. You’re connecting, remember? These verses will connect to everything that’s happening to you while you think about them — including your emotions. If you always resent the time you spend on verses … how much do you expect your mind to enjoy revisiting these memories? How strong do you think these memories will be?

“Saving time” by rushing only wastes all of it.

Renewing rewards you.

Rushing wastes your time.

Renew, Don’t Review

Have you noticed that I try to say “renew” instead of “review”? Switching these words has been a paradigm shift for me.

“Review” conjures up all the worst parts of school:

  • You’re forced to do it. It’s a chore.

  • You review for the sake of some quiz or test, not the material itself.

  • You’re rehashing old stuff, in the same boring way.

But “renewing” feels totally different. We renew because we want to. You renew a friendship by calling up someone you love. You renew your strength every time you eat.

And renewing is creative. Another paradox: we memorize the same words to lead us to new thoughts. Yes, we’re also renewing and strengthening the thoughts and connections we’ve already made. But you don’t need to stop there. Renewing should be creative.

Renewing your memories is an act of creativity. You can think new thoughts every time you touch these verses.

Renewing is its own reward.

So don’t let Christmas craziness make you rush. Learn to savor your time with these verses.