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Don't "get it" yet? How to work toward spiritual understanding

Have you ever felt bad about not understanding aspects of Scripture, Tradition, or Church teachings? When you do gain understanding, how can you be sure that your understanding is correct? Amelia shares some thoughts on the subject.
From a Facebook post by Amelia on November 27, 2013:

Here's a personal story for you this morning …

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine who is an Orthodox monastic (nun) told me to read the Psalms every day, even if I didn't understand what I read. I was glad she said that, because it made me feel like it wasn't terrible to admit that I didn't understand all of the words, and especially the Old Testament references. It was enough to compel me, eventually, to take her advice very seriously.

She didn't explain this to me at the time, but what I have come to learn over the years, and what I have encountered many times, both in personal experience and in reading others' stories of similar experiences, is that understanding eventually does come: by God's grace, yes, but usually this grace comes in response to persistent spiritual effort on our own part.

There may be a passage of Scripture that you have read 150 times, and then when you read it the next time, regardless of whether you had previously thought you understood it or not, suddenly it makes sense in a way that you didn't know was possible. This is God revealing something to your heart.

The joy that you feel when this happens is immense and deep, but it also causes a blazing rod of humility to pierce your soul. That's how you know it's really something from God, and not just your intellect trying to proffer its own interpretation (or worse, accepting a false conclusion suggested by demons). You recognize how small you are and how great God is, and you can't comprehend how or why He would personally and specifically touch your heart this way. Real experiences of divine revelation and intervention bring great joy and thankfulness, but they also reveal our unworthiness and complete dependence on the mercy of the Lord.

I hope these words will mean something to at least one of you, just as Sister Barbara's words meant something to me back when I was in my 20s. It's ok if you don't understand everything (or anything!)—in time, when God sees that you are willing and ready, you will. Just keep reading anyway. Also pray before, during, and after reading; it helps.

Reading holy books is not without benefit to your soul simply because your mind doesn't understand; meanwhile, even without your understanding, the holy words still sanctify your mind. And your eyes. Sometimes this is the very preparation you need in order for understanding to come.


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