Brain Power

Last week, I was lounging by a pool with a couple of friends when one of them asked if I liked crossword puzzles, before proceeding to seek help in his attempt to solve one. My answer? Not so much. Crossword puzzles are just too vague. The brainpower required to find a 3 letter title to the song that goes “dum dum dum …” is just not readily available.

Soon thereafter, I found myself solving a word scramble at a friend’s bridal shower (yes, those are the types of things that happen at bridal showers, folks). Let’s just say, it was a bust. I mean, I almost finished in the allotted timeframe given, and I only spelled one word wrong (seriously though, all the letters were right there, and I still spelled something wrong); so that’s not too bad, right? Right.

But after our word scramble debacle, my fellow bridal shower attendees and I started talking about the depth of our brain capacity. The brain, being a muscle, must be exercised. Now, some people are more naturally inclined to words than numbers and vice versa, but either way, the muscle needs to be challenged in order to maintain or even grow in its strength (that’s what word/number puzzles are for, I guess). But what is interesting, as with any muscle, is how the lack of exercise decreases the overall capacity of our brain. I am not medically or scientifically inclined at all, so I am making no claims as to how the brain really works, but, one friend suggested that the brain permanently trims its ability to learn if not properly strengthened.

Holy cow. That is scary!

When I was younger, I went to a Christian school that always had us memorizing scripture. From kindergarten through senior year of high school, I memorized passages of scripture multiple times a week. Word for word.

And I was good at it. I became so good at memorization that when I studied for a test, I would memorize the 18 pages of notes I scribbled throughout the class. If I felt unsure about my answers on the test, I would simply regurgitate those 18-pages of notes on the extra credit section to prove that I knew the material. And that’s pretty much how I aced high school.

But what scares me is that now, at nearly 30 years of age, my memory stinks. I vaguely remember some of the scriptures I learned in school, and I’m pretty sure I can only match a few scriptures with their appropriate references. And now, when I try to memorize verses, it usually comes out as: “it goes something like this …”

Clearly, my brain is not being challenged in the way it once was, all those years ago. Am I letting my brain fail? Why?

Is it because I don’t have a regularly scheduled test to study for? Was the possibility of a failing grade the only form of accountability that would actually prompt me to sit down and work my brain? Or worse, is memorizing and meditating on scripture just not important enough to me in the midst of this crazy, busy, adult life? Ouch. That is a sad truth to admit. I don’t want my brain capacity to fade away, but more importantly, I don’t want God’s word to become less than critical to my existence. I want to need it so badly that I can’t afford to not memorize it. I know the more I do it, the easier it will be, so why not just do it? More importantly though, I want the intimacy of having God’s word written on my heart. This is where self discipline comes in to play; where being an active participant in this relationship is critical. If my brain loses strength due to lack of exercise, so will my relationship with my God. And in both cases, the result is devastating.

Joshua 1:8 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Julie Benson