Creative Memorizing

9:43 PM

Today I want to share several (somewhat unusual) ways to memorize Scripture and retain it.  You may feel a little weird or immature doing some of these things, but if it sticks in your head, I think it's worth it! :)  I may or may not have felt slightly embarrassed yesterday, running around in the yard with my verse cards and slashing my hands through the air.  I just hope my neighbors didn't see me.  

It's important to have some sort of link to each of the passages.  The weirder, the better.  You aren't likely to forget something that strikes you as funny in the passage, an unusual word, or the why of the order of a list.  You just need to keep your eyes open to notice things. 

Visualize it.   For some passages, you need to pretend that you are actually there in that passage.  Put yourselves in the shoes of Peter, James, and John at Gethsemane.  Imagine your excitement as a letter from Paul is read to your church.  Feel the anguish of the psalmist as he cries out to the LORD, his only hope.  Now, you shouldn't let your imagination run completely wild, but you do need to use it to understand the actions, thoughts, and emotions of those who wrote or received your memory passage.  

Another way to visualize is to see the words on the page.  This is also important, but unless you have a very good photographic memory, you can't rely on that.  I know that sometimes I "see" the wrong words on the card, or the picture in my head is so fuzzy I can't make it out.  

Notice the Words.  Last year, Romans 6:22-23 was one of my memory passages.  Although it was fairly easy to get it the first time, I kept on making this one mistake when I reviewed it.  I would say "the fruit that you get" instead of "the fruit you get".  I finally realized how to fix the problem.  When you smash the words "you get" together, it's pretty close to "yogurt".  The "fruit yogurt" can't be "the fruit that yogurt".  When I noticed this, I no longer had trouble with the passage.  All I had to do was just picture a little container of strawberry yogurt, and I was good to go.  

The second part to noticing the words is paying attention to why they're in the order that they're in.   For Romans 1:29c-31 (ESV), I realized that there is really a reason that the words are in the order that they're in.  Look at the thingy (I don't know if it could be called a meme) that I made below.  

Wouldn't this make a great screensaver?  Or you could print it off and frame it in your room.  I'm sure your family and friends would be a little surprised at your choice of decorative art. 

You should notice that the words appear in groups.  Gossiping and slandering are very similar.  "Haters of God" is by itself, and is in the largest font, because it best summarizes these sins.  "Insolent, haughty, boastful" -- these words all mean a rude sort of pride.  For the next three, "inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish", it may be a little harder to understand why they're together.  The darker, smaller arrows show us what comes next in the passage.  The lighter, dotted arrows indicate that both inventing evil and foolishness lead to disobedience of parents.  One kind is a sort of clever disobedience, while the other is thoughtless and reckless.  The last three words are grouped together because they all end with "less".  You could say that each of these words is a continuation and worsening of the last one.  As you can see, the words in this list were not randomly strung together.  They are in this order for a reason.  

Act it out.  This takes imagining the passage to a whole new level.  No longer do the pictures stay in your head, but you become the pictures.  Let's look at a few phrases from Numbers 13:17-32 (Senior ESV) as an example.  "...And whether the people who dwell in it are strong (flex your muscles) or weak (slouch your shoulders), whether they are few (hold up three fingers) or many (hold up all ten fingers), and whether the land that they dwell in is good (thumbs up) or bad (thumbs down)..."  These verses are pretty easy to act out, but some verses will probably be harder.  However, do try to notice what can be acted out in a passage.  

Another note on hand motions and acting your passages out: this is fine for when you are still perfecting your passages, but you need to wean yourself off of it before Nationals.  They can be extremely distracting to your judges, audience, and even yourself.  The worst thing you can do in your oral round is to think about yourself, and if you are doing awkward hand motions, your thoughts will probably be mostly on yourself.  Moving your hand a little to pace yourself will probably not be distracting, but don't wave your hand in front of your face or pretend that you're pursuing and overtaking someone, and then dividing the spoil.  And if you make it to semis, please don't pretend that you're terror and dread falling upon "them".  I will be very embarrassed that I taught you such tricks if you do. If you must do hand motions, confine them to next to your side.  

Marvel at the Word of God!  The glare is pretty bad in this picture, but I love it.

Understand it.  It's very easy to get so caught up in saying the right words that we don't even think about what they mean.  But it's very unlikely that you will accurately remember a passage unless you think about what it means and how it applies to you.  You can remember your favorite passage because you love it.  Make every passage your favorite.  Grow to love each passage so much that it's easy to remember.  Don't stuff your head with a bunch of words; feed yourself on the living Word of God.  May the Word not be just in your head, but in your heart!

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  1. Love the word thingy you made! I've found it helpful to make stuff like that as well. We've also found that it's practically impossible to memorize a passage if you don't understand it. Understanding what you're memorizing is extremely important, like you said.

    1. Thanks, Gloria! I had fun making it! :) I definitely agree about understanding the passage! Maybe that's why I always had trouble memorizing my biology terms... :)

  2. Wow a special blog. You have great photos in your blog. Great! Welcome to visit my website too. Home Tuition Singapore - Tuition Family Singapore

  3. This is very fun, Anna! For me, visualizing the card helps a TON! And weird words/repeated words are helpful for remembering the passages too! (With us using KJV there are plenty of not-so-common words to help us remember!=)


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