What to Keep and What to Get Rid of: Memories

Psychologists have made a lot over memories, taking them out, understanding them, sorting them out, healing them, till we think the past is fundamental to how we live our lives today.  However, I think everyone of us can remember being sabotaged by memories.  Upon trying something new and slightly risky, the memory of a past failure may sabotage our confidence.  Doing something differently than our parents would may conjure up a memory of our parent berating us for something.  Clearly, not all memories are helpful, yet most of us have a storage closet full of negative memories that keep popping up either willingly or unwillingly on our part.

Likewise, some positive memories can sabotage our progress if we “sit on our laurels”.  We all know people in middle age who seem to have never left high school and live with the accomplishments and rewards of those days.  There’s also the men who never left the military, or the company, or the team.  There are women who won’t let their kids grow up.

Memories that are helpful are  blessings for which we can be thankful.  A grateful spirit is one of the best indicators of a happy personality.  We can cultivate a grateful spirit by living in the moment, truly enjoying each blessing around us.  We can savor the experiences in the present and be gratefully sensual, whether it be over the aroma of coffee, the colors in our garden, the home we’ve been so fortunate to live in, clean clothes, and on and on.  We can also savor experiences of the past and be grateful.  On days when it seems there’s little to enjoy, we can take out scrapbooks and remember blessings of an earlier time, thanking God for all the good things that happened.  Such things never fail to revive me on my rainy days.

As far as painful, negative memories, is there ever a time to take them out again?  Sometimes there was a lesson learned or wisdom gained.  I would take out the lesson or the wisdom, thank God for them, and let go of the memory.  God is going to erase all those memories at the end of time anyway.  He will erase all our sins and mistakes, and wipe away every tear.

Memories of people and the love we shared with them are definite keepers.  Memories of times God worked in our lives are not only keepers, but something to share with someone who needs a bit of encouragement today.

I like to remember some special, peaceful, beautiful places I’ve visited.  I go there again sometimes, enjoy the emotions the mental picture evokes, thank God for allowing that special place to be part of my experience, and come away refreshed.  God is good.  Always. 

Most of all, I like to remember promises in the bible: especially promises Jesus made when He walked the earth.  I write down some of his sayings and just enjoy reading them again and again and thinking of them.  These give me hope and joy.

Yes, just like possessions, some memories give us beauty and happiness.  These should not only be kept, but nurtured.  Other memories bring us down.  They really should be given back to the God who let us experience them, and let Him decide what to do with those people and situations.  This can be very freeing.  It can erase bitterness.  I have sometimes written down a fragment of memory that has been bothering me and burned it in the fireplace, signifying its God’s now and not mine to worry about anymore. 

Cherishing a memory that builds me up and warms my heart lets me experience that blessing forever.


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