In the movie 50 First Dates, the Adam Sandler character meets a woman who has no short-term memory and asks her for a date. The trouble is that every date is like a first date because she thinks she is meeting him for the first time. He uses his memory to learn all about her on each date so he can wow her on the next. See the movie if you want to find out how it turns out.
Memory is a wonderful thing, and makes it possible for us to learn and do so many things. So much of our life is built on what has already happened so it is hard to imagine what it would be like to have no memories. But sometimes things happen that we would rather forget.
Right now, I am personally feeling the anxieties of another hot summer, and the fourth anniversary of the Black Saturday Bushfire (Feb 7th, 2009, Victoria, Australia). 175 people died that day, but it is the thousands of survivors and loved ones - like me - who must learn to live with the losses and the memories of that time.
Some might suggest that ‘we ought to have got over it by now’, but that is not how our memories work. I recently saw a WWII documentary that illustrates the point. As one old woman was interviewed about her experiences, her eyes suddenly filled with tears and her lip began to quiver. In that moment it was as if she’d been transported back sixty years to the time when she first heard that her sweetheart had been killed. Everything we experience is recorded in our memories and can be accessed if the right button is pressed. A word, a smell, a noise, a picture or any number of possibilities can spark a memory – good or bad. BUT, it’s the bad ones that can knock us around.
While we can’t erase our memories, it is possible to manage them – as a father learned when he sought help. He'd become stuck in a state of perpetual grief after his son tragically drowned. The counselor told him to set aside time each week to sit in his son’s room to remember and pray. By acknowledging his grief and allowing himself to feel its full force, the father was able to get back on track. He would never ever get over the loss, but now his grief wasn't running his life. It is good to grieve the loss of loved ones, but even they would want us to get on with our lives.
The Lord knows all about the joys, the sorrows, the blessings, and the burdens that we call memories; and in Jesus we can be confident that He really does understand. My hope is that you will enjoy remembering the good times, learn to live with the times you’d rather forget, and find the peace and strength that the Lord offers to all who will come to Him.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are weighed down by heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
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