Taking Memories

About Memories #4

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I thought I was finished with the topic of memories, but today they are barraging me. I’m writing this on my daughter’s birthday (January 22). Stacey would be 44 today, but she died 14 years ago and all we have are memories. So, yes, I’ll take the memories. There are no upcoming dates on the calendar, no random phone calls (for which she was famous), no plans for a party (another thing she was famous for)—just memories that swirl with bittersweet remembrances. Sweet for the joy her life created, bitter for the helpless sorrow of missing her.

The day poses a dilemma—try to remember or try to forget? I’m guessing you also have a significant date or two.

I’m all for remembering. Tears will come and that’s okay, they’ll pass. But the sweetness will remain—the lingering fragrance of a life loved, the echoes of laughter, the pleasure of having shared life. And it’s not over. God just hit the pause button—we will again walk, talk and laugh together, for all eternity.

So, if you’ve lost someone special, I suggest you take hold of your memories. Savor the sweetness and release the bitter. Recognize that the person you loved and lost enriched your life and made you who you are today.

This short visit was not an incident: it was a benediction… The remembrances, the influence, the associations remain… And if God recalls the child He lent, then let us thank Him for the loan, and consider that what made that child the messenger of God—its purity, modesty, trustfulness, gladness—has passed into our soul. The Potter’s Wheel (1904), Ian Maclaren

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Aching Memories

About Memories #2

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Why do details of the really good memories we want to savor appear blurry, but bad, sad, aching memories show up in hi-def and vibrant color? The loss, the insult, the injury—though unbidden—display themselves in dazzling detail.

Could it have something to do with how often we rehearse them? (Cringe!)

I zeroed in on a powerful truth last year: I can control what I think about. I used to think I was a victim of my thoughts, that I must entertain them whenever they present themselves. Now I know they are under my control—I can pick and choose. And I must. It’s like changing the channel on the television—the program is still being aired but I don’t have to watch it.

I found several tactics effective for thought replacement therapy:

  • I stop and give thanks for half a dozen things—any things, random things. I simply divert my mind to consider my blessings.
  • I pray a blessing on the offender. Yes, really. It deflates the power of my bad memory and works a change in me. (And who knows what it does in their life.)
  • I consider the blessings that came my way in spite of, in the midst of, or following my great sorrow.

These are channel changers. So are listening to worship music, meditating on a favorite verse, changing my physical position.

Another aspect of my thought replacement therapy for memories is to decide to ignore, stuff or deal. Hint: though often a preference, stuffing is not an option. The key word here is decide. Face the memory and realize that ignoring it invites a future visit. Dealing with it may not stop those visits, but a healthier you will respond to the knock and a stronger you will not invite the memory in.

It’s simplistic, I know, and traumatic memories may need the perspective of a counselor. But for those recurring memories that stir bitterness in your heart, I recommend thought replacement therapy for a happier, freer you.

Making Memories in 2019

About Memories #1

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Christmas and the arrival of a new year comprise one of the most reflective seasons on the calendar. For each of us, inescapable memories enhanced (or marred) our Christmas celebration. Some of those memories came by invitation, others by intrusion. They all arrived with accompanying emotions.

As we close the door on 2018 and its remembrances, we hope to make good memories in 2019. “Making memories” appeals to us. The phrase inspires dreams of happy experiences—celebrations and milestones, trips and vacations, accomplishments and relationships. After all, nobody chooses to make bad memories.

The truth is, however proactive we are in making good plans to create good memories, 2019 will include the making of bad memories—those we don’t plan or want, memories that make us uncomfortable, embarrassed, or sad and may hurt for many Christmases to come.

I am convinced, through years of personal pain and ministry to hurting people, that there is only one antidote for the unwelcome events that create bad memories—grow strong now.

When a crisis arrives, it’s doable—you can survive. You will muster the needed strength and inner resources. But, if you’re already strong spiritually you will ride the churning waves without being sucked under. Spiritual health equips us to win the war over life’s disappointments, much as a healthy lifestyle prepares our bodies to overcome disease.

My new year’s wish is that 2019 brims with wonderful memory-making experiences and that we will end the year well—because we set our hearts to grow strong today. We will overcome 2019’s challenges and our walk through the year will be sweeter.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Ephesians 3:16