Thursday, May 18, 2006

Would it Be Better To Forget?

Lord knows I’ve tried on several occasions and in many different entries to write about the value of our pasts. And still, that does not keep me from retracing the same arguments in my mind and wondering whether or not it’s an absolute truth.

And it got me thinking… Does the pain of our past always serve some purpose? Or should we instead be seeking “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” by deciding to forget?

For those of you who have seen the movie (I highly recommend it by the way), you may already know where this is going...

If it were possible to forget the past, if it we were somehow able to erase the painful memories entirely from our recollection, if we could manage to wake up tomorrow believing it was nothing more than a bad dream who's details we cannot remember – would we? Should we?

Everyone deals with heartache differently. Some of us learn and grow in spite of (or because of) the things that previously hindered us and others harbor negative feelings and emotions until they turn cold. For those of us able to look back and push aside the bitterness and see the bigger picture, even the most tumultuous past can seem like a blessing. If we hadn’t been where we were, surely, we wouldn’t be where we are. But there are still some people who are forever trapped in the past, who cannot help but relive their mistakes time and time again. They cannot go forward. They cannot move on because instead of looking ahead or up, they are forever looking back. They are bound to stumble. I’d like to think there’s a happy medium, but I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I know how difficult it is to find the middle ground. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of faith and more than anything it takes time. Healing comes slowly.

For years before I met M, I lived life in the shadow of a past I couldn’t out-run. I decided before I was 21 that I had, had my shot at happiness and had ruined it and I made up my mind that every future attempt at love would fail. And it did! I saw to it. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that I would not admit to as I sabotaged one relationship after another reminding myself that nothing would repair my broken past. Regardless of the steps I often took in spite of myself to move on, I was too wrapped up in the things I could not change. I couldn’t forgive myself. Even when I thought I was moving on, I was just running in place. And it’s sad to say, but it took facing the demons of my past in the most confrontational way possible before I finally put it in perspective. It took almost losing everything to realize everything I had right in front of me.

It took time. And it was not long before I started to see M for the gift he was intended to be in my life -- a realization I would not have been able to come to had it not been for the contrast with my past. And it brings us back to the same line of reasoning: that we could never appreciate the day without the dark of night and we could never know what is good without first knowing the bad. Yet, for those who have not yet seen the day or stumbled upon the good, it may seem ludicrous. The pain of the past may be nothing more than painful. Yet, there is still hope.

If we can look back even on the bad times and remember some spark of happiness, some shred of a memory when we felt joy, then we have something to look forward to. (Those of you who saw the movie may be remembering that one moment that the main character tries to hang on to, which makes the painful past worth remembering.) If we could just believe that God will not let us settle, that the best is yet to come. If we could pinpoint all the times we were low and God pulled us up. If we could realize the truth: that God hasn’t put us here to punish us or keep us down and that sometimes, down is the only place we can look up from, it would be easier not to look back. It would be easier to see the past as a piece of the puzzle, as a thread in the tapestry. It would be easier to trust that someday we will understand the reasons that have been concealed.

If we don’t remember where we’ve been, how can we know where we’re going?
I’m glad I know now. It was a lesson worth learning.


Rebecca said...

Absolutely. No mistakes made, only lessons learned. I truly believe that.

If we dont' encounter the struggles of yesterday, we can't become who the people we are of today.

Tim Rice said...

If we wipe out our past, we also wipe out our future. Sometimes we need to escape for a little while. But we must always come back to our past to move forward.

Of course one can dwell too much on the past, just as one can dwell too much on the present or the future. It's a matter of balance before God and ourselves.

Pia said...

we are who we are now because of what we've been through. trials can either make us or break us. it's our choice. forget the anger and the bitterness but remember the experience. that's the only way we learn from it.

hope everything's fine with you there. God bless! =)

audrey` said...

This is a very good post, Nan.
We're shaped by our past.
We need to look forward to our future guided by our Lord.

Damian said...

The past serves as reminder also. Good to get over the bad past though, I like to think of it like a operation, or injury you get and after time you can still describe the pain but you don't feel it anymore and sometimes you can't even fully remember how bad it felt. God bless and take care, you are in my prayers.

thebeloved said...

Without past mistakes being remembered we would make it again and have to suffer that pain over again.

Godwyn Lim said...

Awe-Inspiring Post!

Even from the scar of the past, when we look away from our flesh, we focus on the perfect work on the cross, our life will never be the same...

Everything will come to a past but Son of God, Christ reign forever! Amen?!

cybeRanger said...

ALL things work together for your good and His glory.

Ryan S. said...

That's pretty deep and thought-provoking... my life could be a lot easier if I forgot some matters and totally moved on never to worry of them again. Of our sins, Psalm 103:12 tells us: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
—Revelation 21:4

I have often wondered whether the former things passed away should even be equated with all of our memories. When David said he would be able to go to his son, but his son could not come back to him, I believe revelation hints at our cognizance and presence of our loved ones in the Heavenlies.

Sometimes, it seems as though remembrance of the world that passed away would be to glory.

Christ was perfect and sinless and came into a sinful world and remained sinless, so it is possible, we could have awareness of what we were saved from in Heaven.

I just try remembering that our trials and adversities forge us, and sometimes memories though painful are part of who were are, and embody our road to sanctification.

That's a thinker and a point to ponder. Sometimes, overcoming things seem to best come by forgetting.

Nice post.

Genna said...

AMEN!! Awesome post.

martie said...

We are who we are because of our past and past experiences. If we forget, then who would we be? Someone different than who we are....I want to be me!!

Kristi said...

Thanks Nan! I struggle with my past often as well. I'm going to re-read this over and over until it really sinks in!

forgiven said...

Hi Nan
A long time ago I wanted to end my life and I hit a tree at 75mph to take my life. The Lord saved me from death and Hell. But from that time I can see the tree and hear myself scream . But the Lord has used me so much in other poeple .

I think that sometimes it is good

Great Post


Bushwack said...

Another fine post nan. Sorry I haven't been by in a while, But I can always count on a good post from you.

green said...

You have been tagged...