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