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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bad Memories?

I was about nine years old. On the walk home from school, my friend Kathy and I would stop at the neighborhood drug store and buy a candy bar. One day I really wanted that candy, but I had no money.

I don't remember what kind of candy it was. I don't remember how my mom found out. What I do remember is that, when she found out, she marched me back to the store. I remember the deep shame that I felt as I stood in front of the store owner and confessed what I'd done.

Would I like to forget that memory? Sure.

Do I think it's a good idea to forget it? Not at all.

Not long before Christmas, my husband was telling me about a news item he'd seen. The article was about "a concoction that prevents the brain from reliving the bad experiences."

Wow, that would allow me to forget about my brief career as a criminal?  Or some of the other things I've done, things that I regret with every fiber of my being?  What about traumatic events that weren't my own decisions ... like nearly drowning when I was a teenager, or being followed home late one night?  How about getting blindsided by a guy who polished off the dinner I'd prepared, then said, "I've been seeing someone else"?

How tempting!  But if I forgot about those things, wouldn't I also forget the lessons that I've learned through them?  I'd like to think that I've grown through these experiences.  Every one of these events happened before I knew Jesus as my Savior, and perhaps He used these to lead me to Him.  Of course I've had trials since I've known Him, too, and I know that He redeems those.

If I didn't have "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding," I think I'd be much more eager to forget the painful memories.  But since I do, I will continue to trust God to use those experiences for good--perhaps to shape me more into His likeness, or to ready me for "good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Would you choose to forget your painful memories?  Or, what have you learned from traumatic experiences?

Weekend Bloggy Reading

image credit: Flickr user wuperruper


  1. It would be nice to forget painful memories but I believe that God can take away the pain from those memories if we allow him to. I don't think taking a drug to do such a thing is a great idea.

  2. I just noticed your new header! It is beautiful!

  3. I was watching the OWN (Oprah's new network) this weekend and they had a show on about some rapper (not my music style so I don't remember his name) but I do remember he was talking about failure and how he has learned and grown from it. Success has not taught him any lessons it's the failures that have taught him. Made me think :)

  4. I agree, I like having the good with the bad memories. How else are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we cannot remember them? I think that is what growing up is all about.

  5. While some things I think are important to remember, I wish I didn't have some of the traumatic memories. they really serve me no good. They just make me depressed. If God is using them, I don't know because it feels so much like sorrow and pain with no good at the end of it. I'd like to be the bigger person and say "Oh its so great God has used my trauma to make me who I am" but who I am is not really who I want to at the end of the day, I don't feel like its done me much good.

  6. I wouldn't get rid of them. For better or worse God used them to bring me here and I like here.

  7. although i would like to forget some things...
    everything has made me who i am today, so no forgetting them..
    just continuing to learn from everything :)
    great post

  8. We learn and grow from our bad memories and even our traumatic ones. Perhaps the only time forgetting might be OK would be in severe cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like with war or rape victims. Even then, I would think it would be only for cases where PTSD had become debilitating for daily life. We need our fear response. Eliminating it would cause other types of problems. Not everything should be cured with a pill.

    I also like your new banner head. Happy New Year to you and yours. :-)

  9. Ug, that is why getting older helps desensitize the memory sensory. Seriously, I truly believe that memories are there as part of a length of strength. I don't mean the more trauma the greater the strength. However, some memories are so tragic that it consumes all the good a person has left in them. I live by this rule, "everything happens for a reason" only sometimes we just can't see through the tears.

    Good post... made me think twice and then think about what I wanted to forget.

  10. I would like to say I have forgiven myself for the things I have done wrong but that is not true... I just keep punishing myself.

  11. Oh how your words ring true with me. On one hand, I would love to live guilt free of all the things I've done, but I wouldn't because of the lessons learned. Amen! God forgives, if only we could forgive ourselves.

    Visiting from Amanda's.

  12. "Brief career as a criminal...." That made me smile. ;) There are a few memories I'd like to forget, but I do think you have a point about learning lessons. Thanks for linking up with me. :)


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