Last night my parent’s came over for family game night and my mother showed up with several CDs of old family videos that she had transferred from tapes. After they left I sat down and watched my high school graduation and my sister’s high school graduation. Nearly 30 years have gone by since those days and it was like watching another life. I barely remembered anything and as I viewed images of myself I tried to remember what was going through the mind of that young woman avoiding the eye of the camera. I felt as if I was watching a shadow. Who was that person in the video? As far as my sister’s graduation I had no recollection of that day at all. In fact I told my parents I didn’t think I was there because it was the summer I had made a trip to Guatemala for a missions trip. Yet, suddenly, there I was in the video.
I was astonished at how quickly memories fade.
The most emotional part was seeing my grandparents who have long since passed away. I wanted to jump into the screen and grab hold of them one more time. Chuckles abounded out of seeing how much everyone has changed – the slimmer figures, darker and fuller hair, and the the hair styles! My son sat next to me and when an image of my mother came into view he said, “Nana’s hair looks like the shape of an atomic bomb!”. We rolled with laughter. The videos brought back wonderful memories of fun family gatherings. As imperfect as my family was, we loved our gatherings. I always enjoyed being around all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends so close we couldn’t remember if they were blood-related or not. Living within a few hours of each other made it easy to throw together a picnic or bbq filled with lawn games and laughter.
I’m really grateful my mother took the time to put these memories together. It’s good to remember pleasant times. Cherish your memories for if you do not, you lose something valuable.
When I awoke this morning I had a bit soberness as it bothered me at my lack of remembrance in my life. Have I completely disregarded the life I had? In my pursuit of being better, learning and growing, did I throw away the precious gift of remembrance? I felt very disconnected to the girl in the video – she had no idea the hard life she had ahead. If I could go back and talk to her what would I say? I wanted to reconnect in some way to those moments as if it could somehow save me from the sadness and heartache of other memories. All those swirling thoughts ended up with the impression of how important it is to simply remember. Remember the blessings and cherish those memories.
How many times does God ask us in His Word to remember? He established festivals and rituals for the sole purpose for us to remember. Communion is about remembering the Life given to us through the sacrifice of Christ. Do many of us devote much time to remembering the goodness of God and the lessons in life? I know I don’t give any. I think we assume we will automatically remember. Last night was a good reminder that not only is remembering something good for us as it helps with perspective, but remembering takes a focused effort. It’s easy to recall the pain and hard times, but we easily discard memories of the blessings. I am guilty of focusing on the pain, but last night revealed that it’s not only the hard times that shape my life – it’s the good times as well.
As a challenge to all of us: what can we do to remember the good things in our life and the faithfulness of God? I know the Paul says “forgetting what lies behind I press forward toward the upward calling of God.” How do this directive and the command to remember fit together? Perhaps it is the encouragement to do the opposite of what we naturally do – forget the failure and pain of the past and move up in the high calling of God.
Occasionally taking the time to stop and purposely remember God’s goodness through fond memories and honoring His blessings in our lives is a good habit to form. It builds within us a grateful heart and perhaps diminishes the negative memories that we easily hold on to.
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