Polished Memories

We all remember something in our past that is not perfect.

library-catalog A bad reaction to a situation, a wrong movement made in awkward times, a misspoken word or phrase, or even a negative thought about some particular so-and-so… We can, according to many who study the science of memories, sharpen those memories and make them worse, or better, than the original action.

library-of-congress-storageMuch like the 10,000 new books that are added to the Library of Congress every week, every book has a place, and is cataloged for future use. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. Forever preserved for the future collection of some set of fingers that wants to find what the past held.

On the other hand, you and I file away the adjusted memory, waiting for it to be recalled and polished the next time we bring them out. It’s a never-ending process of polishing our memories until they may not even resemble the original event!

If I’m going to polish my memories then I want to be that rushing river that files down the sharp and hurtful edges of that deposited stone. Let’s make it milder than it was…and unless it’s something I must guard for in the future, I hope it becomes part of my past that is polished when recalled. Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe for the worst. But let me analyze it correctly at what ever future time it beckons.

Growing up in the 50’s-70’s, I recall it somewhat an idyllic time of comfortable days and enjoyable events. Sure, there were rough spots along the way, but for the most part those are not recalled. I mean, you could even say something like, “My, aren’t you the Queen Bee!” and never remember saying it, but the hearer or the broader audience may remember it very well… That’s the part and parcel of how memory works. One doesn’t remember. One does. And who’s to say that either will remember it correctly?

I have this faint memory of sitting around the dining table in Seabrook. Probably about the 3rd grade and having to memorize salient facts of countries for a Social Studies class, you know, population, production, location, border countries, language…stuff that meant a lot to a 3rd grader… Right? I do remember struggling with the feeling of “why” is this important, and, that I had better do good so teacher and parents are equally proud of the effort. 

To this day I remember that the study time nearly brought me to tears of frustration, and anger. None of these facts helped me become a better adult, but I’m sure it was thought these were needed facts to graduate to the 4th grade.

So, I polish the memory and minimize the angst, and maximize the joy of making a good grade!

I was thinking about this over the past 24 hours or so as we talked about a friend who recently passed. There are negative circumstances we can focus on, or we can simply polish our memories and recall the best times. I choose the latter.

Solomon said, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing…” (Proverbs 10:7), so a righteous person keeps good memories. At least that is my take! God blessed me with the ability to forget all the details of life that can plug up the cells of memory with the negative! You may share something that is not delightful, and before the week is gone I have a clean slate. The specifics fade with the hours, and by the time a few days has passed, it becomes somewhat ethereal, wispy, then – poof! Gone. History. Forgotten.

This is what we yearn for when we think of all those negative things of our own past. No one remembers, nor recalls, and the transgression flows like the dust on the wind. Gone. History. Forgotten.

King David wrote this little parcel that we all trust in.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 

(Psalms 103:8-13 ESV)

So great is his continuing love to those who have a reverential fear to Him, who could remember everything, for always! He moves our transgressions as far as the east is from the west… He shows his compassion.

Here’s my thought…Think on it. Selah.

Have some compassion today. Polish those memories into something worthy of retaining. Cast those negative memories away. Recall them no more.

Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression
of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.

(Micah 7:18-19 NKJV)