When I first began investigating the church, the missionaries asked me to read the Book of Mormon. Faithfully, I began: “I, Nephi, born of goodly parents…” That wasn’t so hard. I understood that and the stories were interesting. I was sure this would not prove to be a hard request to honor.
Then I got to 2 Nephi. Suddenly the reading was much more difficult. There were Isaiah passages and other complicated readings. I didn’t understand what I was reading. I stopped reading my scriptures every day.
But soon, my teachers were asking where I was in the book. Not ready to face Isaiah, I started over. “I, Nephi, born of goodly parents…” Again, I was lost in the exciting world of Nephi, his wonderful parents and his terrible older brothers. But, while I’d been away, no one had removed 2 Nephi from the book and I soon came to it again. I once again gave up. This continued for some time. I joined the church and started college. I knew a great deal about Nephi and his parents, but almost nothing about the rest of the Book of Mormon. When I learned about the Institute of Religion (a church program for college students) I began attending. My Institute director suggested I not try to understand 2 Nephi. “Just read it,” he said. “Keep going and you’ll soon be to something you do understand.”
I took his advice. I started back with my friend Nephi, but when I got to 2 Nephi, I kept working through it, meeting the goal of three chapters a day I’d set. We were reporting our daily reading to our Institute Director each week, and this helped motivate me. Sure enough, I soon came to another exciting story and was happy again.
The first time through the Book of Mormon, I mostly focused on the stories. This helped me become familiar with the people and the language of scripture. Over time, as I continued to read, I paid more attention to the doctrine. I learned to ask questions when I was confused. I attended
Certain words are used regularly in the scriptures. For a new convert, these words can be confusing. Even reading the Bible, which many converts have done before joining the church, feels different now. Now that you know certain truths, you understand them differently. You may be puzzled by scriptures you took for granted in the past. Find a trusted friend to explain these scriptures to you.
I keep a scripture journal as I read. I like to record my thoughts on the scriptures and then to later compare them to earlier thoughts. This keeps me focused and reminds me to concentrate and to think about what I’m reading. Nephi told us to “liken the scriptures” to our own lives—to think about how they apply to us. Doing this keeps me interested as I read.
Develop a habit of reading each day and God will help open your minds to what they all mean.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.