Memories – This can be a very dangerous word to use. It can start you down the road of “back in the day” or it can start you down the road of “I do not want to go there.” When I close my eyes and allow memories to float through, it is a combination of both.
My dad was a truck driver. He was not home a lot. That caused many of the “I do not want to go there” memories. Dad being home/gone/home/gone resulted in confusion. We always asked mom for permission to do something: go swimming, go to the neighbors (Yes, we asked permission even though it was only one step over the property line.), or go to a movie. But then dad would be home and expect us to ask him. We would forget, ask mom and then dad was not a happy camper.
Dad usually sat at the kitchen table, with a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Except for an occasional Saturday night when he would come into the living room and we would watch the last of a movie, change channels and watch the last of another movie and change channels and watch the last of a movie we had no idea of what was going on. (There were only three channels.) That is a back in the day good memory.
At breakfast the other day, we were talking about living with no air conditioning. To be honest, we had an early form of air conditioning. The windows were open and fans moved the air around. At night we slept where the air was moving the most. Maybe in bed, but usually on the floor somewhere. (That made for getting up to go to the bathroom a challenge. You never knew where someone would be stretched out.) I used to take naps in the porch swing. I would wake up to kitchen chairs propped against the swing so I would not fall out. Another good memory.
I love to watch storms. Even as a kid. I would sit in a corner of the porch where rain never reached. If it turned chilly, I would wrap up in a blanket. The clouds would swirl. The rain would come. The thunder would roll. The lightning streak. And I would sit there taking in every sound, sight and smell. I love the smell after a storm. Clean! And the colors after a storm. Green. Blue. White. As if God opened a new box of crayons and colored away. For sure, a good memory.
Memories keep floating around in my head and heart: Mother made the best peanut butter pie ever. Dad played board games and croquet with us but was always changing the rules. Seeing my very tall dad washing dishes beside my much shorter mom.
But I also remember never hearing my dad tell me he loved me and that leaves a hurt that never goes away. There were four of us kids, but my mother had only one child: the oldest. When I asked her about that, she said, “There is something special about your first born.” When I asked about the second, third and fourth, she said nothing. Another memory which left a very deep scar.
Now this last “I do not want to go there” memory is going to make you wonder what kind of a Christian I am. We were sent to church but neither mom nor dad attended with us. Fast forward many years and my mother started going to church. Know what? I was mad! Why couldn’t she have gone when we were kids? Kids with no parent beside us in the pew. She went to Bible study. She bought a Bible Commentary. And she told about her Sunday School class and getting hugs each Sunday. Now why should I be mad and hurt because my mother started attending church?
It took me many years to understand that the home my dad grew up in is where he learned about love and that it was shown with actions (providing for his family) instead of words. It took me many years to accept the fact that mom did love my brother in a different way than she loved us girls. It took time for me to be thrilled that mom was going to church.
When I finally looked back. When I finally understood. When I finally accepted. When I finally let go. When I finally forgave. I realized something. I love my father. I love my mother. They were not perfect parents. But they are my parents! I have directed many conversations upward and I do believe we have it all worked out.
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Life is made up of memories. Some good, some bad and some are just there. What we do with those memories is what is important. We can allow them to give us joy. We can allow them to make us bitter.
Some memories we want to hold dear. I saw a quote that said: Memories are timeless treasures of the heart. So true. Never let those good memories go.
BUT some memories we need to let go of and move forward. We need to see that God does not want the past to hold us from the future HE has planned for us.
Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
Life is made up of memories.
Some good, some bad and some are just there.
What we do with those memories is what is important.
We can allow them to give us joy.
We can allow them to make us bitter.
What are you doing with your memories?