I never imagined that reading and writing would become so important to me. I wasn’t an early reader and even to this day I can read faster aloud than silently. My elementary school grades in reading and spelling always remained in the B/C range. I grew up when phonics instruction was nonexistent. Instead of teaching phonics in the 1960s they used the “see it and say it” method which didn’t help my reading or my spelling. One of my hallmarks today is that I always carry a bad spellers dictionary. I was accepted to BYU on the grounds that before graduation I would take and pass a class designed for those who didn’t fare very well on the spelling portion of the ACT. I took the special class my senior year, just before graduation. I reviewed the rules that were supposed to help and took multiple tests. Before the final exam I went to my teacher and said, “Look, if you give me the words in advance I’ll memorize them and pass this class, but if the words are randomly chosen I’ll flunk and I won’t graduate.” He asked to see all my previous tests. I sat nervously as he reviewed each of them. Finally he looked up at me and said, “You are a smart bad speller. Don’t come back to class, and promise you will always carry a bad speller’s dictionary. Finally my handwriting never advanced beyond the elementary school level. I never did develop the recommended mature slant with a creative flare. My cursive to this day is straight up and down and as round as the sample alphabet running above the black board in my 5th grade classroom. Don’t worry! I did graduate.
Today reading and writing are an essential part of my recovery. I share my early struggle with these subjects as part of my witness that reading and writing are not tools of recovery reserved for the intellectually elite.
The scriptures, recovery literature, and the classics have expanded my vision and understanding of living in recovery. I’m not so concerned with the speed of my reading as I am with the quality. Reading allows me to have a glimpse into the minds of those who have done what I am endeavoring to do. What do they think? It also allows me to peek into the lives of those who have done what I am endeavoring to do. How do they live and why? Through the tool of reading I have the opportunity to learn very detailed, personal, applicable things from folks I will never meet. I benefit from the experience of those who have been successful. That’s a real gift.
I find that if I am willing to write as I read I am doubly blessed. I often record in my little notebook the thoughts and feelings that come to me as I read. I am constantly asking the Lord to help me see what I can learn about myself from this event or that character. I am always taught. I’m familiar with the saying, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.” Sometimes I wonder if the very act of holding a willing pen and grabbing my notebook is a sign to Him that I am serious about receiving instruction. Writing is an essential part of my recovery. As I am prayerful and watchful of the thoughts that come to my mind, Jesus Christ, through the gift of the Hoy Ghost teaches me about myself using the language and experience of others. He helps me see myself in them. And long after the reading has been put down, if I continue to listen to my own thoughts and feelings, He often teaches me more. He seems to be ever willing to extend my learning beyond the page that stimulates the initial thoughts.
I also use the tool of writing as a lifeline and as a spot check. I write based simply on my need to talk to God in the middle of the day or night about what’s going on. When I take time to write down my thoughts, no matter how confused or frustrated I am, He always extends to me the gift of clarity. Solutions, ideas, perspectives come to me that are undeniably from above and absolutely beyond my mortal capacity. He gives me sanity. He gives me peace. He gives me vision. He allows me to see real possibilities.
Prayerfully reading inspired literature (scripture, recovery, or classical) with an ear cocked in God’s direction, a pen in my hand and a notebook on my lap brings powerful recovery. Addressing God and learning from Him and being willing to take notes on what He teaches me is my way of putting God and His word to me first in my life.
You don’t have to be a Hinckley Scholar to use the tools of reading and writing! Reading and writing are not tools reserved for the intellectually elite. They are however tools reserved for those who are willing to set the table and dine on the word of the Lord.
By Nannette W.
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W.
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