At the end of both days of general conference, for our scripture study time, I asked each of my children (all teens) what stood out to them. Two of the three mentioned Devin Durrant’s talk where he invited us to “ponderize.” It’s great when talks have simple memory tools that make the principles stick, especially for children and youth! (Dear Brother Durrant: It worked. So I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and use the word, too.) [As an edit to the original post, I want to reiterate that Brother Durrant himself notes that this shouldn’t be a replacement for regular scripture study. It is a supplement to it, and an example of an exercise that can build mental and spiritual well-being.]
It was a blessing for me to reflect with my children about how ponderizing has helped me in my life. I shared with them about how I will forever be grateful for the Seminary program and the Scripture Mastery scriptures I marked, memorized, and read and re-read as part of my Seminary experiences. I also am so grateful I had the opportunity to serve a mission. Even though I envy the missionaries who now have Preach My Gospel, I do feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to ponderize a set list of scriptures as a missionary in ways that were similar to what I did in Seminary.
(Now, Preach My Gospel has a lot more scriptures to read, which is great. And if I were a parent of young children, I would definitely use that as a guide for scriptures to choose. But I love that I was exposed to a short list of topically-organized scriptures, each that had a pointed purpose.)
Last night, I saw a mom ask in a Facebook group what scriptures others would recommend that she include on her list of scriptures to ponderize with her children. Of course, the best list of scriptures will be selected over time with the Spirit’s help, so ultimately God can guide even children to scriptures to focus on. I have often been amazed at how my children can so quickly and easily resonate with scriptures and speak with the tongue of angels about them. (If you are a parent of young children, don’t underestimate how much your children can learn and do.)
Still, as a starting point, it was easy for me to share my suggestions above with that mom because of the impact memorizing these scriptures as a youth/young adult (or at least being very familiar with them) still has on me 25-30 years later! Learning, marking, and repeatedly teaching and learning scriptures helped me understand and remember where key doctrines of the Plan of Salvation can be found in the scriptures. (e.g., Want to read doctrinally-dense chapters about the Atonement? Read chapters like 2 Nephi 2 and 9, or Alma 40-42.) And I have often reflected on how much ponderizing has impacted my desire and ability to teach my children the gospel from the scriptures.
I also shared with my son about how becoming so familiar with the word of God leaves a repository from which the Lord can draw from. John 14:26 says “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The Spirit can bring things to our remembrance when we have His word in our memories!
Thanks to Elder Durrant for encouraging my children to ponderize, and for giving me an opportunity to reflect on the blessing this “small effort…sustained over time” as a youth had and continues to have on my life. (I’m grateful for those who love to ponder scriptures and gospel principles with me now that I am an adult.)
p.s. Not that my opinion matters, but given my experience, I will share this thought: My one suggestion to add to what Elder Durrant invited us to do is to invite your children to mark scriptures they want to remember. Even though digital scripture reading is so often the way we read, I think there is still value in the physical action of pulling out a red pencil and a paper copy of the scriptures and marking them. I would have never imagined that such a simple, physical action as a Seminary student and missionary would make a difference in my ability to remember doctrinal threads and remember where to find verses, but it really did. I think marking scriptures can also invite learning about the context and background of the verse, which also helps the mind and spirit make connections that can stick.