Memories can be good and memories can be bad. Memories are those glimpses of the past that are woven into the fabric of everyone’s life. We all have memories. Our memories can be something beautiful that we cling to. Or, they can be flashbacks into our past times of distress, unhappiness, and pain. Regardless of what types of memories you have, memories contribute to making you the person you are today. Please notice that I said memories contribute to making you the person you are today. They don’t determine who you are today. Memories can serve to make you better, or they can cause you to become bitter. How you respond to your memories largely determines your ability to achieve happiness in life.
I can look back over the years of my life and recall many wonderful memories that I will forever cherish, and I am sure that you can as well. I remember back to the days of my childhood the gentle spirit and the laughter of my Mother. I also remember her frequent words of encouragement and wise counsel during my teen years and my early years of adulthood. I remember to this day where I was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I can reflect back and remember the days that my two sons were born. As my sons grew, I fondly remember their first steps, and I remember attending their graduation ceremonies. I have memories of the day that I married Janet, my best friend, helper, and soul mate. I could go on and on listing some of the positive memories that I cherish in life. Along with all of these beautiful memories that are a part of my life, I also have a certain amount of memories that are not as pleasant. I have memories from my childhood of wearing a back brace for the treatment of scoliosis from the time I was eight years of age until I was thirteen. I wore that old brace twenty-three hours a day and seven days a week for five years! I have memories of starting a business in my early twenties that later failed. I have memories of going through a divorce. I suppose I could continue on and list more of the memories I have that are associated with periods of my life that were disappointing, discouraging, and painful, but I won’t. The point is, I have my share of beautiful memories that I cling to, as well as my share of memories that I try to keep in the recesses of my mind, and only refer to them when necessary. Regardless of whether the memories that you have are beautiful memories, or are memories of distress and pain, your memories can provide the catalyst for you to become the person God intended you to be. As you read this, I am sure that you could mentally make a list of the wonderful memories that are part of your life, and you could also make a list of the painful memories of your life. All of your memories, whether they are good or bad, can help you to grow, learn, and reach the destiny that God has for you.
When I created this website, I chose to call it Pressing Toward The Mark. This title was taken from something that the Apostle Paul said in the Bible. In the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, Paul said, “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 KJV) Now when I read this, I don’t think the apostle Paul was trying to suggest that we should completely banish any memory of our past from our lives. That is all but impossible. I think what Paul was saying is that we should not FOCUS on the past. I believe what Paul wanted us to understand is that we should not dwell on our past mistakes and failures, but that we should set our focus on our future, and realize that we have hope through Jesus Christ. We can remember pieces of our past without dwelling on them. I would argue that it is important to never allow some of the periods of your life that were filled with mistakes, discouragement, and pain to completely escape your memory. Let me explain why. If at some point in your life someone takes advantage of you in some situation, or they betray your trust, you may forgive them, (and you should) but you will never completely forget it. I like what the Christian author Lewis B. Smedes said about forgiveness and memories. Smedes was quoted as saying, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for the future.” I think those are some pretty profound words.You can choose not to dwell on what happened, but you should never forget it. The reason you should never forget it is that even though it may have been a painful experience, it taught you a lesson that will last a lifetime. Also, painful periods of your life, and the times of your life that were filled with failure and disappointment can serve as a reminder as to where God has brought you from. Too many people today reach great levels of success in life and become ungrateful, forgetting the place where they once were in life. Never allow yourself to forget the place God has brought you from.
There is a great passage of scripture in the Old Testament that is about a warning from Moses to the Israelites that they should never forget the place from which they were delivered. God was about to lead Moses and the people to the land that was promised to them. Moses warned the people saying, “Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:6-14 NIV) What Moses was saying in a nutshell is that when they took possession of the land that God had promised them, they should not forget where they once where, and where God had delivered them from. Do you have memories about the place where you once were in life? I certainly do. When I reflect on the memories of where I once was before I turned my life over to Christ, and think about where God has brought me from, I cannot help but be thankful. Retaining memories of your past and comparing them to your situation today can cause you to have an attitude of gratitude. When you think about this, even the memories of your life that are not the most pleasant can cause you to grow into the person God meant for you to be.
I encourage you to embrace your beautiful memories, and learn and grow from the memories that were not so good. Just remember, all memories are useful in your life. You simply have to learn which ones to focus on, which ones to learn from, and how to benefit from them all in order to continue to do as Paul said and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,