There's a fun experiment I was reminded about recently where a person is put in front of a few buckets of water of varying temperatures. The experiment is to put your hand in one of the buckets, say the cold bucket of water, and then allow the hand to acclimate. Then the person is told to quickly go from the cold to the warm bucket of water. Doing this causes the warm water to appear or seem hotter than it really is. It's actually warm, but it can feel like a shock and can hurt and sting. The temperature the hand previously got used to dramatically influences how the person experiences the next thing.
Once the hand again acclimates, then reality sets in. But before that, their experience of reality is a misconception. After seeing things as they really are, that is the better moment to decide which temperature you want to take a bath in. And incidentally might explain why you've felt cold for quite some time.
That experiment involves your skin, a very sensitive organ of the body. But I wonder if the same effect happens across a broader spectrum. I've watched my self undergo this type of thing and it appears pretty common with more things that just changing temperatures on skin.
Suppose we take a religious example. Suppose the religion a person lived in all their lives is something they are deeply acclimated to. They're used to the songs, the social norms, the agenda, the prayers, the whole kit and caboodle. To them this is "reality". And to some of them it's the only "true" reality. If you were to expose that person to some other religious meeting or some alternative to what they're used to it might feel or seem to them to be shocking, or even cause pain and discomfort. The risk is the same as what happens with the water, which is the body wants to retract abruptly. Even though the new thing might actually be something they would "warm" up to and find preferable if acclimated to.
It's interesting that the initial shock is not from the thing itself, it's from what preceded it. The thing coming before can be blinding and distorting.
It's easier if you can acclimate gradually, but even then it can still hurt. But as a whole it's easier if it's gradual, and gentle. If you have that luxury. When you decide to acclimate to God's word is up to you. You forgo some things if you don't respond to God's invitations. Procrastinating the day of repentance is warned about by Alma in the Book of Mormon.
With some things, ideas or understandings I've had years to gradually acclimate and I now find the belief, understanding, way of thinking etc. etc. preferable. Sometimes though there are shocks. But the water example proves it's better to not rush into a conclusion any more than you should rush into a conclusion about the actual temperature of the second bucket of water your hand was put into.
As I look back on my life God has worked with me in ways that are gentle. I search for God and have made that my quest. I have found there are invitations, and suggestions, warnings, requests, and "consider this" type communications from God. The more thick headed and blind I am the more direct and abrupt the lessons appear to need to be. That pain is from what went before, not because of some undesirable trait about God. Truth is God is gentle, kind, persuasive, uses longsuffering pure knowledge and is meek and lowly of heart. I've learned it's our contrasting fallen state that makes God initially seem like something other than the things He teaches us to be.
I hope to always respond to God's gentleness, His invitations, His suggestions, and His outstretched arms. Those are happening now. According to scripture that isn't always the way God is going to interact with mankind. It's prophesied that shock is coming. If you don't listen to invitations the other options are sometimes direful. It's going to be much better if a person is prepared. There's a revelation I believe is from God found here. It may be shocking to some who read this post, but give that link a chance and all that the message implies. See if it doesn't turn out to be warm and inviting after turning towards God.
This is not at all what I started out writing today. It's turned into a warning, one I'm internalizing. The warning that God's gentleness is being offered now to mankind. But shocking realizations and alarming things are prophesied in scripture to come upon the last days. That's going to hurt a lot more or be a lot more life threatening if it's abrupt, or catches you sleeping than if you prepare now. Discovering too late that a thief has come during the night might be terrible. But it's reality if the warning get ignored. The warmth of the sun on a chilly day is how God's word feels. However the scriptures that warn the days will come that will burn like an oven.
Scriptures warn us. It will be so much better if we heed the warnings and acclimate to hearing God's voice and following Him now than to deal with the shock of reality when we realize what we believed or what went on "before" wasn't reality, but was a cold bucket of water.