Memory is an intriguing thing. The same event can leave you either wanting to bury your head in the sand or fill you with confidence.
A while ago, I saw a children’s movie called ‘Inside Out’. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about the emotions inside a young girl’s head and how they interpret the world for her; I wholeheartedly recommend it.
In the movie, as events occur, memories are created as little balls. Each ball has an emotion attached to it and it appears in the colour representing that emotion, e.g. anger is a red ball.
I’ve seen people go through what looked like similar events. Yet some come out carrying disappointment, while others have fond memories of the experience.
I’ve been wondering how God remembers things. For example, imagine a child is retelling a story…
It's lunchtime as me and Mum walk into Woolies. She's holding her huge handbag in her right hand. The other hand is holding my hand. We’re going to get chocolate. But I have to wait till we get everything else first.
I help. I get all the vegetables really quickly. But Mum thinks we need more, so we have to go back there together.
I help collect the snacks too. Mum says we need smaller packs though, so we go back together to change them.
Then I stop helping. I just follow her and think about which chocolate I want today.
It takes forever, her list keeps going on.
Then mum says, ‘we’re done’.
I am so excited. I run to go pick a chocolate.
‘The Mars bars are over there’. Mum points to the front where all the chocolate bars are on special together. I head over and decide I want a Boost bar today. But someone has put them up higher, just a little more reaching. My fingers can almost get there and…
‘WAIT!’ Mum yells.
I jump and grab it.
Crunching. Crinkling. Banging.
Did the ceiling fall down? I’m covered. All the plastic is crinkling.
‘ARE YOU OKAY?’ Mum yells. Oh, it’s just the chocolates. I double check and squeeze my hand just to be sure. Yep. Success. The boost is still in my hand.
Mum pulls me up and out.
‘Are you okay?’
Holding up the chocolate, I tell her I’ve got it.
She smiles. ‘I’m glad’
That's when I see the very angry, old, big Woolworths lady.
Oh, and there’s a lady from church. She looks shocked and an old guy is laughing.
Mum squeezes me in hugs.
The Woolworth’s lady gets mad. I try to help and she tells me to ‘GET OUT’.
The church lady sighs and mutters something about parenting these days.
The old guy can’t stop laughing.
Then it’s a blur, Mum buys the food, we leave and get home somehow. I have my chocolate!
Choosing how we remember
What does the child remember or carry from that day?
I can picture them remembering Mum’s response, Mum giving comfort and hugs even when everything falls over. A sense of security and confidence can grow from her response.
If what sticks is the old guy enjoying the funny factor, it might be a learning curve to see the funny side of life more.
I can also picture the child being told to ‘GET OUT’, or the muttering of the church lady sinking in and replaying over and over.
Any number of unpleasant emotions could start to develop from there.
How does ‘love’ remember?
I’ve been wondering how love remembers things?
These two verses came to mind.
‘Love keeps no records of wrongs.’ (1 Corinthians chapter 13, verse 5)
‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’. (1 John chapter 4, verse 18)
Imagine Mum as love, retelling the story without any memory of wrongs or judgements. Not even feeling offended. Without fear of what anyone would think. What does that look like?
I can imagine the look of joy on her face as she remembers her little one so full of excitement. The giggles, as she recalls the ‘helping’, the fidgeting, being asked 100 times if they had finished the list. The concern she felt as the chocolate tower came down.
The feelings of compassion for the other ladies.
No matter how I try though, I can’t see it being remembered or retold without a great deal of amusement.
How then does God remember all my attempts to ‘help’, to try new things? Those adventures that ended with the world falling down around me or eating a tub of ice-cream late at night to commiserate.
All those memories I remember with regret, fear or anxiousness. I wonder how he would retell them?
What would the tone of his voice be?
Would it be with amusement and joy, with pride or with… Maybe sadness? Although, I imagine hope would permeate the sadness.
Well anyway, I’m excited to relearn, to rehear my stories as love would tell them.
Without fear or reminders of what I got wrong. And I believe with a great deal more laughter!
How would love retell your stories?
Joel Woolley lives in Canberra Australia with my gorgeous wife and father. I have a desire to understand why. To get to know people and especially God. I love having adventures and sharing them with those around me; or at least to be telling stories and sharing them with those around me.