Un-learning and Re-learning

Recently, I caught up on two podcasts that at first appear that they have nothing to do with each other. One was an interview with Dr. Andrew Hill, a neuroscientist. The other was three theologians discussing Romans 12:1-2.

During breakfast, I listened to Julie Foucher’s Pursuing Health podcast episode called “Train Your Brain for Peak Function: Dr. Andrew Hill.” Dr. Hill shared how our brains work. I learned that our brains are pretty flexible. Dr. Hills says, “You can exercise the brain and make changes almost always. The brain is hard to understand but not hard to push around.”

Then I hopped in the car to take my daughter to a play date. On the way there, I finished a different podcast episode from Knowing Faith called “#141 Romans 12:1-2.” Theologian JT English said something that caught my attention, “Christianity is all about un-learning and re-learning.” He was referencing Romans 12:2a which says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

So, isn’t it interesting that God, the creator of all things – which includes our brains – tells us to be transformed by renewing our minds? God created our brains to be malleable, as in we can un-learn and re-learn new things. God made it physically possible for us to transform our minds!

But how do we do this? In the episode, Dr. Hill likened brain re-training to physical exercise. It takes time, effort, and uncomfortableness but has a great payout.

A couple of months ago, I had to reframe what it means to spend time with God. I equated being a “good Christian” to having thirty minutes of quiet Bible study time while sipping hot coffee in the mornings. I blame women’s ministries for creating this image. Just go check out any women’s ministry Instagram account, and I guarantee you will see a perfectly curated image of a Bible, journal, and coffee mug. This is not a bad thing, per se, but it’s unrealistic – especially for moms of little ones. When I failed to meet this unrealistic expectation daily, I vowed to try harder the next day.

After realizing that this magical half hour never fell into my lap, I knew I needed to try a different system – something I could be consistent with. So, I started memorizing Romans 5, and to my great surprise, I’ve stuck with it almost daily. I tried something different: I set my daily expectations very low – so low, in fact, that it’s impossible not to do it. Instead of saying, “I need to memorize a new verse every day,” I expect to spend five minutes a day working on memorizing Romans 5. Sometimes, for five minutes, I go over everything I have memorized so far, or I learn a new line or two. What’s funny is that the low expectation gets me in the door. I know I have five minutes a day to work on it. But, once I get my momentum going, the five minutes turn into fifteen. Or I return to it later in the day. Or, I just call it after five minutes and consider it a success!

I also find it’s a convenient thing for moms to do. I go over it out loud while I drive around town or while my daughter and I are at the park. I can easily access it on my phone and learn a new line while waiting at the doctor’s office. I’ve also trained myself to work on it during little lulls when I would otherwise waste time scrolling on Instagram.

This simple practice is a way that I transform and renew my mind. It can be uncomfortable and frustrating sometimes – especially when I forget everything I memorized the day before. But, I have found a great payout from this process. It gets me interacting directly with God’s Word. I’m able to see connections between aspects of the chapter that I wouldn’t have by simply reading through it. And, I’ve un-learned aspects of theology and God’s character that I once believed were true. By literally placing His Word in my mind through constant repetition, I’m re-learning what is actually true about God. I think you should give Scripture memory a try – I mean, it’s only five minutes.

Mentioned Podcast Episodes:

Pursuing Health Podcast Episode

Knowing Faith Podcast Episode

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