I Wish I Could Forget

The other night an ad for the Superbowl caught my attention when the narrator asked, “Is there a day of your life that you will never forget?” My first thought was “Yes, because it’s too horrible to ever forget.” Of course that wasn’t the rhetorical response he was looking for. But the truth is, when I look back over my life, there are a few days that stick out as ones I’ll never forget because of how painful they were. And I wish I could forget.¬† Often when I have wished I could re-do something, I have thought how wonderful it would be to undo the memories for myself or someone else of such a painful outcome. As impossible as it is to undo the event, it is that impossible to erase the memories. Our minds don’t work that way. What’s more, it often seems that the “bad stuff” is the easiest to remember.

So, what to do with it. What to do with the ragged, painful memories that are still sharp enough to cut deeply each time they cross my mind? What to do with those same memories embedded forever in my children’s tender hearts? What to do with the pain of a broken past? I am certainly not the only one with this predicament. Movies have been made, songs have been written, books have been published with this theme. What does a human heart do with the pain of the past? If it can’t be forgotten, then how can it be stored in a healthy manner? In a manner that won’t spoil the present or retard the future?

As I have read through the Israelite history in the Old Testament recently, I have seen God’s direction for remembering the past come up over and over again. Often God reminded the Israelite nation, “I am the one who brought you out of your bondage in Egypt. I am the one who led you in the wilderness.” God didn’t want them to forget the painful path they had traversed, because in doing so they would forget His faithful hand¬† leading them through it. He even had them set up stones and other monuments as memorials of different watershed events in their history. God wanted them to remember so they would remember His presence and provision. Even in remembering their sinful choices they were to remember God’s forgiveness and provision of redemption.

The memories I would most love to be rid of forever, are memories that still throw me at the mercy of my Savior. And truly I have nowhere else to go. So forgetting would be detrimental. Because in remembering, I find comfort in every fulfilled promise of my ever-present, faithful God.

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