“I eat my boogers!” our son announced to the camera, having been caught by his dad who was taping a birthday celebration. Years later our daughter rolled in laughter watching this scene from an old family video. I can still hear both his little voice and her teenage cackle. Two precious memories.
Fast forward another handful of years and that same daughter left home under less than pleasant circumstances. Not an endearing memory. I could hardly walk by the closed door to her room without battling pain and regret.
“Why did we adopt these children to have it end like this? What good did we accomplish? Would it have been better to have left them in orphanages on the other side of the world?”
The feelings of failure and resentment grew over the next several weeks until one day I bravely entered her vacated room. I discovered one item she had left behind: a trifold display board to which she had affixed photos of her growing-up years. This board had been exhibited on her high school graduation table at our church’s honor-the-grad night. As I gingerly opened the board a flood of memories greeted me.
Hiking in Bryce Canyon. Birthday celebrations. Camping expeditions. So many amazing moments of adventure and laughter. With the viewing of each picture, a smile slowly emerged on my face . . . and in my heart.
We had so many great times together. It wasn’t a waste after all.
Baptized in the waters of sweet remembrance, I arose with comfort and hope.
A handful of years later, I gave our now adult children personalized calendars containing pictures from their years in our home. I trusted that as they each perused those pictures they would be reassured they indeed belonged to us. They were not adrift in the world. They had parents who cherished them, believed in them, and had full confidence in their success as adults.
God wants us to build tangible reminders of His goodness in our lives.
When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,
“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan . . . and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
. . . to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. . . . These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever (Joshua 4:1-7 NIV).
Other places in the Old Testament the Lord instructed the children of Israel to establish various feasts and festivals as a remembrance of the many ways He had cared for them. Passover is such a time, as is communion in the New Testament.
Why is God so emphatic that we establish multisensory road signs? Alina Tugend of The New York Times cites several studies on the weight of bad memories verses good memories. Bad memories have twice as much effect on us as do good memories because bad memories carry a stronger emotional impact and thus we tend to remember them in greater detail (http://nyti.ms/1BeZ6Dm). I can certainly attest to that. No wonder God wants us to monumentalize our good experiences. Our minds can’t easily recall them.
So dear mom, click, click, click your camera. Upload. Scrapbook. Journal in minute detail. Display artwork. Create new holidays.
If you’re like me, there will be plenty of times you will need “stones” to remind you that God is in control and all is well.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to see your picture of a cherished memory in the comments below.
Copyright May 2016 by Cheri Johnson