Memories are being studied today for varying reasons. Scientist are researching a way that one would erase traumatic memories, while others are working on mind control techniques where they implant false memories waiting to be triggered. There are repressed memories, forgotten memories and childhood memories. Most of us have heard the terms ‘short term’ and ‘long term’ memories. Short term memories are recalling what has just happened over the last few minutes or days. Long term memories are memories brought to mind where details are not always remembered. Of course, you also have flash memory, root memory, memory chip, bubble memory and memory lane. There are a host of other terms placed with memories but today we are looking at just the basic meaning of memory.
According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary memory is:
a: the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms
b: the store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition
2a: commemorative remembrance
2b: the fact or condition of being remembered
3a: a particular act of recall or recollection
b: an image or impression of one that is remembered
c: the time within which past events can be or are remembered
4a: a device (as a chip) or a component of a device in which information especially for a computer can be inserted and stored and from which it may be extracted when wanted
5: a capacity for showing effects as the result of past treatment or for returning to a former condition —used especially of a material (as metal or plastic)
Synonyms include: remembrance, recollection, reminiscence. Memory applies both to the power of remembering and to what is remembered. When remembrance is used it applies to the act of remembering. Reminiscence suggests the recalling of usually pleasant incidents, experiences, or feelings from a remote past.
Definitions can be exact and sterile. However, memories have a life of their own. Memories can trap our hearts, they can cause issues when forgotten, can cause confusion when remembered wrong or can be lost to diseases. Memories can also bring encouragement, hope, healing and forgiveness when seen through God’s perspective. Scripture talks about bitterness rotting our bones. Bitterness is memories that destroy and hold captive. The interesting thing about memories when viewed from God’s perspective is that even the most painful memory can produce joy, freedom or encouragement. So read on with a willing heart to see memories from God’s perspective.
There are three categories that Merriam-Webster does not address: ~ Memories of the Heart ~ Memories of the Mind ~ Memories of the Spirit. Let’s explore today, ‘Memories of the Heart.’
I typed this phrase into google and there were 31+ Million search results, majority of which were on grief, bereavement and crisis support. Then you begin to see results on lost loves and lost dreams. ‘Memories of the Heart’ seem to relay the meaning of the past, long ago and forgotten events of our life. We would like to forget when a loved one died and only remember their life, we would like to forget pain of a lost love, a lost job, a bad decision, but we cannot forget.
Going to funerals I hear the phrase, ‘we will remember the good time’ and this breaks my heart. Death is strong and hard. All emotions are wound up and spinning. Christians are suppose to have the correct words to say and emotions to feel. Funerals in some evangelical circles have become an evangelizing tool instead of a time to remember the one who passed. Let me give you an example.
A friend of mine passed away a few weeks before my dad. At this friends funeral everyone was dressed in casual shirts and big smiles were everywhere, including the husband who had just lost his wife. I was getting ready for my dad to die and at this funeral I saw a party. It struck me how dishonest this funeral really was. Yes, it is true, the one who dies in Christ is with the Him and that is a reason to celebrate, but there is also real emotion inside those left behind and that emotion needs to able to grieve. Ignoring those real emotions do not bring healing or joy.
My dad died a few weeks later and we were faced with a funeral. My stepmother did not want a funeral. She only wanted a viewing where everyone could be casual and come as they desired. I was adamant about having a funeral after being at my friends. She was angry until we had the funeral. I gave the eulogy and saw God heal those who needed His healing touch, encourage those who needed His encouragement and joy at knowing that feeling deep emotions was okay. Those who did not believe had the freedom to grieve and see a difference in those who believed.
What I am trying to say is simple. Death is a ‘Memory of the Heart’ but that memory can bring joy and healing to the heart. Each time we try to run from difficult emotions we cannot heal. Journaling difficult times in our lives is probably the most difficult. There is such a tendency to focus on the pain, the unfairness, the emptiness and hopelessness you are feeling. If you do not learn how to journal constructively bitterness will take root and many faithful have suffered shipwreck in regards to their faith.
‘Memories of the Heart’ are tools God uses to focus us. During difficult time He commands us to remember who He is, what He has done in the past, what He is doing today, what He will do tomorrow and what He has promised. As I remember and record my ‘Memories of the Heart’ I need to keep these points in mind so that my journaling can be a release and healing tool in the faithful hand of God.