When you think of memories, what comes to your mind? Being a “glass half full” kind of gal (and slightly corny) when I think of memories I hear Barbra Streisand singing The Way We Were in my head:
Like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
I enjoy remembering childhood summers at Pismo Beach with family and the way my future husband looked at me as I walked down the church aisle with my dad. I still cherish the surprise of an incredible warmth that filled my heart the first time I said, “My daughter” as I walked to the hospital nursery to get her.
But not all memories are “misty watercolor memories.” In fact, much of counseling has to do with helping clients face memories that are painful and emotionally crippling. I count it a privilege to listen to the story of every client, but there are some stories that are more difficult to hear than others. What keeps me steady, is the spiritual wisdom of the Bible. It has the power to comfort the heart and soul of the hurting in precious ways. Over time I have gained an ever-deepening appreciation for the word “bittersweet” as the Scriptures add the sweetness of hope and light with its reminders of God’s faithfulness. When helping someone who is struggling with memories, it is always the voice of the Scripture that best serves to penetrate the darkness of bitterness and hurt.
Romans 8:28 offers such hope and light in the turmoil of trying to make sense of what is unfathomable:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
No matter what happens, God’s own have a resting place in Him. For “all things” to be worked for out good, means that His Sovereign Goodness will ultimately carry the day, His Justice will prevail over what has seemingly not been addressed in this life.
The wisdom and perspective offered in Romans 12 directs us to keep our priorities straight as we help others:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Verses 10-12)
Essentially what Paul is saying is to love our neighbors, but keep pleasing and honoring God our number one priority. As we dedicate ourselves to being “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” we discover the sweeter path to His Hope and Light penetrating even the bitterest memory.
But what are we to do with those memories that seem to stalk us, like shadows that grow larger over a distance? The words of the Apostle Paul, written in a stinking Roman prison cell, lends the sweetness of wisdom that has transformed even the most heinous of memories for two thousand years:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Feeling stuck in a prison cell of unforgiveness? Have you been hurt and feel forgotten? Are you frustrated with life? Perhaps you are filled with regrets that you have no way of making right? Then follow the wisdom of Scripture as you determine to trust God in the NOW. I guarantee that He can and will clean out the sludge of the bitterest memory as you determine to trust in Him.
All to His Glory!