Thursday, November 29, 2012

“To remember only the pain, or only the joy, would be incomplete”

This month’s blog posts resulted from welcome comments Samantha White left after my blog post, Don’t Forget Your Memories!

If you’ve been hanging around SM 101 for a while, you know we emphasize the importance of remembering, based on several Bible verses, and Samantha’s probing ponderings brought real-life clarity to the topic.

With grace and wisdom, Samantha wrote, “Remembering can be a great gift and also a great curse. Memories can haunt us and pull us away from the present.…”

And so, her insight brings us to the end of this month’s examination of forgiveness and whether forgiving also means forgetting.

(If you missed earlier posts, here are links: Does forgiveness leave room for forgetting AND remembering? If we’re ready for “…a radical reconstruction of the heart,” (Max Lucado), God is ready and eager to forgive. God’s forgiveness is complete. Perfect. We also need to forgive ourselves.)

So the question today is:

After God forgives us, after God takes our sins from usas far as the east is from the west!—should we forget our wrongdoings? Or should we remember them?

Here’s what I think:

If remembering keeps us stuck in pain and regret,

if remembering prevents us from moving on,

if remembering keeps us mired in self-loathing,

if remembering our forgiven sins defines us and declares us ruined for the rest of our lives,

then remembering is not God’s best for us.

On the other hand,

if remembering focuses us on God’s unfailing love and all-sufficient grace,

if remembering makes us fall on our knees before Him in awe and thanksgiving,

if remembering speaks of  “a joyful release from the things that have bound us far too long” (Chuck Swindoll, Grace Awakening),

if remembering helps us hope,

if remembering  blows us away,

if remembering shows how far God has brought us,

if remembering leads us to delight in God and love Him more,

then let’s remember!

God invites us to a sacred remembering,

a sacred remembering that releases us from wallowing in old history,

a sacred remembering that invites us to be our true selves: “Your True Self is who you are in God and who God is in you” (Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for our True Self),

a sacred remembering that enables us to live in the present, and for the future,

a sacred remembering that leads us to say, like David,

“Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins” (Psalm 103:1-2, NLT).

and, “You have changed my sadness into a joyful dance; you have taken away all my sorrow and surrounded me with joy. So I will not be silent; I will sing praise to you. Lord, you are my God; I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12, GNT).

 “Never be afraid when God brings back the past.
Let memory have its way.
God will turn the ‘might have been’
into a wonderful beginning for the future.”
(Oswald Chambers)

Forget the things that happened in the past.
Do not keep thinking about them.
I am about to do something new.
Don’t you see it coming?
I am going to make a way for you
to go through the desert.
I will make streams of water
in the dry and empty land.
  (Isaiah 43:18,19, NIRV)

God invites us to a sacred remembering in which we view our forgiven sins not as through rose-colored glasses, but as through grace-fogged glasses, when we view forgiven sins as distant clouds, as morning mists.

Samantha wrote insightful words that will bless your life and help you write your memoir:

“Memories can … make us deeply grateful for all the good we’ve received. One of the gifts for me in writing my memoir is that it helped me put my most painful memories to rest. By publishing them, I have given them wings on which to fly and stay alive, without my having to personally relive them daily.… The Bible is about times of pestilence and suffering AND triumph and survival. I suppose we need to remember it all … that life was difficult, and that we overcame and grew.… To remember only the pain, or only the joy, would be incomplete. We need to remember it all, as a package, because life is all of it. Pain and loss, healing and joy. We LEARN by remembering!!! I think the message of the Bible, ‘Remember,’ also means ‘Don’t let the suffering, nor what was gained and learned from it, be wasted. Learn. Remember what we’ve learned.’”

Many thanks, Samantha! You have blessed us all!

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