They say everything you need to know you learned in Kindergarten: Share everything, play fair, don’t hit people and all that. This is knowledge you have in your brain. While helping my 9 year old nephew with his multiplication flashcards, he said, “Even when I went camping for like, three days, I came back and I still knew my sevens!”
I told him he’s lucky that he’s a kid- because when he learns new things, they stick in his brain really well, so much better than his rickety old aunt’s. We talked about how, when I’m watching the flashcards go by, the way I know the answer is by remembering what my elementary school teachers taught me.
Even though I multiplied numbers all through high school, college, and beyond, each time since elementary that I did so was because of a recollection of what I learned all those years ago. Each experience further solidified the answer in my mind, but mainly I only had to learn them once and I was good for life.
For things of the world, it is usually enough to simply remember them. The english word remember means to bring a memory or fact back to your mind. Remembering something in the most basic sense of the word is to pull it out of the deep storage of your brain and place it in the front. Acting on it, loving it, or feeling it, is not included in the standard English ‘remember’.
In Spanish or Latin, however, the word remember translates to recordar. The root of recordar, ‘cord’, means ‘of the heart’. To remember something by this definition means to pass it through your heart again.
Ever since this concept was shared with me by an Ecuadorian home teacher, I have noticed how important this distinction is when dealing with spiritual matters. I could say, “Everything I need to know about the gospel I learned in Primary”, and figure, “I know what the commandments are and I know right from wrong, therefore, gospel education: complete!”
The problem with that is that it takes the most important ingredient out of spiritual learning: The Spirit. The Holy Ghost is the mechanism by which important truths (all truth, in fact) are passed through our heart. Commandments, facts about Jesus’ life, Articles of Faith can be known in our minds forever. But, they will do us little good if they fail to change our heart.
Of course, “Changing your heart” can sound like an abstract concept, but there are practical ways to achieve it. I learned a big perspective-changing piece of information while listening to the Teaching By the Spirit Workshop by Gene R. Cook, Emeritus Seventy (amazing CD that will change your teaching/speaking skills for life). He pointed out that when Jesus visits the Americas, in 3rd Nephi, 20:1, He is about to administer the sacrament and also teach them the commandments. He commands them to cease to pray (orally), but not to cease praying in their hearts while He speaks to them.
Elder Cook points out the powerful idea that although the Savior of the World is in their presence and teaching them, they still need to invite the Spirit of the Father into their hearts and into the meeting. Even Christ’s teachings would mean little if they were not accompanied by the Holy Ghost.
Whether we are teaching a lesson, talking to a friend, giving a speech, or teaching a child, the most important factor is whether or not the Spirit is with us. The rest of the workshop talks about the need for worthiness and invitation of the Spirit as above even the most intricate of planning. Spending hours on handouts, table settings, our hair, the flowery words and analogies we will use, the dozens of extra stories we will share, all matter very little if we are stressing out, being mean to our husband, or failing to pray and ponder on what the Lord would have us do.
If we allow the Spirit into the room, into our hearts, and create an environment in which it can enter into the heart of another, the Lord can teach much more precisely, more personally, and with far greater impact than we ever can. Not only will He speak to our minds what we should say, He will also speak to the hearts of others exactly what they need to know. If we were only trying to get a concept or fact into our minds or into the minds of others, we would simply need to teach to the mind and create mnemonic devices for rote memorization. But if we want to help ‘recordar’ things (wrong usage, I know) we have already learned a dozen times, it is through the heart alone that this happens.
When I look at the promise to “always remember Him” in light of this definition, I see why we hear it every week. We already know what the prayer will say. We may have scores of scriptures memorized that we can bring to mind at a moment’s notice. In the temple, we already know what is coming next. But since these things are truth, if we choose to not only remember them but to also ‘recordar’ them by prayerfully seeking His presence, the same words can pass through our heart again for the Holy Ghost to testify of their truthfulness.
With how easy it is for the toughness of life to kill our motivation to choose the right, the depth of feelings that come from the Comforter can carry us through with confidence and stronger commitment to endure to the end, in a more powerful and longer-lasting way than using only our mind can.