I spent last weekend in Philadelphia visiting with two friends whom I have known since elementary school. We toured local sites, walked through lovely town homes in the neighborhood, and shared delicious meals. We greatly enjoyed laughing with each other as we heard new stories, but much of our time involved revisiting old memories of people and times that we shared, both good and bad. It was a great time of fun!
The desire to relive and remember the past seems to grow with age, possibly because we have so many more memories than those who are young.
Last month I went through many old pictures, mostly those thrown into drawers and out of sequence. I relished fond memories of family and friends long past, and of trips to the beach and travels around the world. I reflected on the ways people showed me love, influenced my life, and gave themselves to causes that matter. My list of family and friends who have passed grows larger all the time, and there is a lot of sadness when I think of them, but there is also much joy. (The picture is of my last Mother’s Day with my mother.) Through my memories their influence continues.
Memories are a mixed bag, sometimes bringing hurt, sadness, tension, and regrets. Although some things seem best to forget, that doesn’t completely work. My prayer is that I use such memories positively to avoid mistakes, grow wiser, and treat others with more kindness and compassion.
When memories lead me to regret, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of God’s grace. Over and over God warned the Israelites to remember what he had done for them so that they would always love and serve him. When I forget him and deliberately go my own way, my regrets send me to God’s faithful mercy and forgiveness.
Memories make me want my family and friends to think of me with joy. I want to be a better person for having learned from those now gone. And in the end I hope my life counts for God because I remember all that he has done for me.