Memories are an Important Part of Life
Memories can be good and they can be bad. They are glimpses of the past that are woven into the fabric of everyone’s life. We all have them. Depending on the degree of happiness experienced in life, our memories can vary in their impact on us. They can be beautiful, or they can be flashbacks into past times of distress, unhappiness, and pain.
Regardless of what type of memories you have, they all contribute to making you the person you are today. Notice I said they contribute to making you the person you are today. Memories don’t determine who you are today. Memories can make you better, or they can make you bitter. Much of your ability to achieve happiness in life is determined by how you respond to your memories.
Reflecting on Some of My Life’s Memories
Looking back, I can recall many wonderful memories I will forever cherish. I am sure you can as well. I remember the gentle spirit and laughter of my Mother. Her frequent words of encouragement and wise counsel during my years growing up will always be dear to me. To this day I remember where I was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I can reflect back and remember the days my two sons were born. As my sons grew, I fondly remember their first steps, and I remember attending their graduation ceremonies. Some of my fondest memories are of the day I married Janet, my wife and best friend.
Some of Life’s Memories are Painful
A few of my memories are not as pleasant. I have memories from my childhood of wearing a back brace for the treatment of scoliosis. I wore the brace from the time I was eight years of age until I was thirteen. That old brace enveloped my torso 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. My memories include going through a divorce. I could continue a list of painful memories, but I won’t. They are all from periods of my life that were disappointing, discouraging, and painful.
The point is, I have my share of beautiful memories as well as painful ones. I try to keep the painful memories in the recesses of my mind, and only refer to them when necessary. Regardless of whether your memories are beautiful or painful , they serve a purpose. Your memories can provide the catalyst for you to become the person God intended you to be. I am sure you could make a list of your wonderful memories. You could also make a list of the painful memories of your life. All of your memories, good or bad, help you to grow, learn, and reach the destiny God has for you.
Advice From the Bible Regarding Memories
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)
The apostle Paul was not suggesting we should completely banish any memory of our past from our lives. That is all but impossible. I think Paul was saying we should not FOCUS on the past. Paul wanted us to understand we should not dwell on our past mistakes and failures. Instead, we should set our focus on our future; realizing we have hope through Jesus Christ.
We can remember pieces of our past without dwelling on them. Never allow the periods of your life that were filled with mistakes, discouragement, and pain to completely escape your memory. Let me explain why. If someone takes advantage of you in some situation, or betrays 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.
Your Painful Memories Serve a Purpose
You can choose to not dwell on negative memories but you should never forget them. Painful experiences often provide lessons that will last a lifetime. Also, painful memories of the past serve as reminders of where God has brought you from. Too many people today reach great levels of success in life and become ungrateful. People often forget the place where they once were in life. Never forget the place God has brought you from. Painful memories of the past serve to give you a testimony to share with others of how God has brought you through the storms.
An Admonition from Moses To God’s People
There is a great passage of scripture in the Old Testament about a warning from Moses to the Jewish people.
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; 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)
Remember Where God Brought You From
Do you have memories about the place where you once were in life? I certainly do. I am very thankful when I reflect on where God Brought me from. Retaining memories of your past and comparing them to your situation today produces an attitude of gratitude. When you think about this, even the painful memories of your life 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. This will enable you 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,