You Think You’ll Remember

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I stopped scrapbooking years ago.

They say you stop with your third baby just because you’re so busy or somehow you’re over all that new-momma pride.

But that’s not what did it for me.  It’s that I had never scrapbooked because I’m crafty or creative, in love with paper and colors, a fan of stickers and shaping scissors, or content to spend a few hours (or days) cropping photos and writing in the margins with a gel pen.

I scrapbooked because that’s what moms do.

“Good moms” anyway.

But I found out it had become a dreaded chore, the dragging out of the massive Rubbermaid container, the aching back after hours of gluesticks and paper cutouts, the stressing over straight lines and paper scraps.

Mostly, though, it was the clean-up afterward that did me in.  I may have time to make the albums (maybe?), but who has time to clean up project mess?

Perhaps if I had an entire room hidden away somewhere where everything could be spread out and left there over time instead of interrupting my whole house with clutter, then crafts and creativity would be fun.

Life’s not like that, though.  Mess needs to be stashed away.  It takes time to set up and time to clean up, so mostly I just leave the project alone before I begin.

After years of collecting keepsakes and mementos, my containers, boxes, plastic buckets, and piles grew to mountainous proportions, though.

Sometimes I’d at least remember to label the photos I printed or the pictures my little artists drew before tucking them away for safe-keeping.033

But not always, and that was my mistake.

You think you’ll remember every detail of the who and when and what.  You think you’ll remember the stories, the firsts, every reason behind the paper that sits stacked in a cardboard box in your closet.

Sometimes I do remember.

And sometimes I don’t.

Recently, I dragged boxes out from various corners and hidden places and sorted through the papers and photos. My kids pestered me with questions:

Who drew this, Mom?  Who is this, Mom?  What does this paper mean, Mom?

They wanted to hear the details of the story and at times I struggled to remember which one of them had drawn that detailed picture of stick people with fingers sticking out of their arms like twigs or written me that note:  I luv mom.

How forgetful I am.  Life pushes me faster and faster, rushing through this day and the next, and even those moments you most expect to remember blur into the fog of it all.

Memory isn’t passive, not the way we expect it to be.

No, remembrance is an active discipline, a choosing not to forget despite our humanness, our busyness, and our distracted minds.

We’re not alone in this.

In Matthew 14, we read how Jesus fed the five thousand with a handful of loaves and fish.

In Matthew 15, he did it again, feeding over 4000 with some bread and some more fish.

Then, in Matthew 16, the disciples forget to bring some bread along on yet another daytrip.  When Jesus started teaching them about yeast and Pharisees and Sadducees, the twelve didn’t get it.  They missed the point completely and thought he was chastising them for forgetting lunch.

They couldn’t focus on His spiritual teaching because they were hyper-focused on their physical need.

Jesus said,

O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?  ….Do  you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? (Matthew 16:8-11 ESV).

Oh those disciples, sometimes I marvel at their block-headedness and sometimes I just want to put my arm around their shoulders and say, “I get it.  I’m right there with you guys.”

We think we’ll remember the miracles and how God delivered us or how He spoke so clearly, cutting right through the noise of our lives to make Himself evident.

Then we forget after all .  Two chapters later in our own story, we’re still fretting over how much bread we have in our lunchbox even though Jesus is so able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3).

I want to be a historian, a keeper of memories, a relater of miracles and testimonies of  His goodness so that I won’t forget.

He’s done it before.  He’ll do it again.

So I can rest and trust and even wait with expectation and anticipation to see all that God will do.

 

Remembering or Not Forgetting

The first time I ever voted was in a presidential election just a few months after my eighteenth birthday.  At the time, my polling place was my old elementary school, which I hadn’t visited in about seven years.

In the grand scheme of life, seven years isn’t a long time to wait before returning to an old haunting place.  I was young, though, and those seven years were nearly half my life at the time, so I waxed a little nostalgic when I remembered “the old days.”

I walked through the once-confusing halls where we used to form lines only on the blue square tiles and never on the white.

Then I stepped into the cafeteria where I had once been utterly overwhelmed by long lunch lines that never went fast enough.  There was always so much noise and chaos and teachers flickering the lights to signal us to quiet down.

That gym was also the frightening place where I had failed at rope-climbing and gymnastics and kickball.

My memories of elementary school were of general bewilderment.

Not really knowing where I was going.

Missing the bus once because I’d gotten lost walking to my brother’s classroom to pick up his homework.

Navigating tricky relationships with girls who were cooler than me and who all, unlike me, had a favorite singer in New Kids on the Block.  They even had boy band buttons and sweaters, notebooks, and necklaces.

When I returned as a voting adult, it all seemed so much smaller than I had remembered.  The halls and rooms that had loomed so large weren’t so big after all.

Not just that, but I had some emotional re-sizing to do.  All of the elementary school crises that had stressed me out in fourth and fifth grade were put in perspective.

Did it matter that I was the only girl (yes, the only one!) who hadn’t rocked out to New Kids on the Block tunes at my friends’ birthday parties?

Had I been stunted and set for a life of failure all because of my elementary P.E. hopelessness?

I suppose the biggest lesson for me that day was that memory is a faulty thing, rarely accurate, mostly relative and generally a slave to the emotional filter we’re using at the time.

After all, the size of that school building hadn’t changed an inch.  I had grown.  I had changed.  Now I saw that same campus differently.

We have a way sometimes of relying on our own memories too much.  We think, “God gave me this miracle!  I’ll never forget it!”

Yet, within a month we’re stressing out over another need, totally forgetting that God has delivered us before and He could do it again.

We look back on the past and think, “Things were so much better then!  If only I could get back to such happiness, such simplicity, such ease!”

That’s when we sound most like the Israelites on their way out of Egypt, who turned 400 years of slavery into their own version of “Those Good Old Days.”

They whined (weren’t they always whining?):

 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5).

At no cost?  It seems to me their fish and salad diet came at a great cost, the loss of freedom and harsh labor conditions, the murder of their sons, and restrictions on their worship.

In that moment, though, wandering in the wilderness, facing opposition and obstacles, they were willing to trade their freedom for the old salad bars of Egypt.  Why?  Not because they remembered.

It was because they forgot.

And that’s what we do so much of the time.  We forget what God has done for us.  We forget where we came from and all that He’s brought us through.  We forget what it was really like.

Remembering the truth—that takes work—and the telling and re-telling of our life stories.

God tells us when we drink the cup and eat the bread and Scripture says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We tell ourselves when we write out prayer journals and gratitude lists to remember what God has done.

We tell each other when, like Paul, we proclaim “the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).

We tell our children by talking “about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Through telling, we remember, maybe not perfectly, maybe not flawlessly.  But at least we don’t forget.

How do you remember what God has done for you?

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Today’s post is part of the August topic ‘Memory’ by the ChristianWriters.com Blog Chain. You can click on the links on the right side of this page to read more articles in this series.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King