That is the way many of my favorite stories begin. Yet, those same words lead down the path of sadness. Many of us recall with chilling accuracy the worst times of our lives- illnesses, accidents, and the deaths of family members. We can summon up replays of the times people have broken our hearts and our spirits. We can list the worst things we have ever done or said or thought. The problem is that those thoughts damage our brains and our souls. It’s like picking at a sore so many times that it can’t possibly heal. It’s also a rather self-indulgent process. Many times we recall past hurts so that we can feel indignant and self-righteous all over again.
I support the idea of learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, but I think that is something to be done immediately. We make a mistake, realize why it is a mistake, and do better next time. Done. I don’t know what we accomplish by reliving and rethinking the mistake twenty or thirty times during the rest of our lives. Recall doesn’t change a thing. Certainly not the behavior of someone else!
Memories do serve a purpose. They can prevent us from hurting ourselves or others. They can help us get through a difficult time by comparing it to something we have accomplished or endured in the past. They give substance to the lectures we give our children. But forgetting is sometimes even more useful.
Forgetting is the first step in forgiveness.
Forgetting is the first step in starting over.
Forgetting is the first step in understanding.
Forgetting is the first step in winning the race.
Phillippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Forgetting is not a natural process and it takes some practice and discipline. The best way to forget the bad times in our lives is to fill our memories with good times and good thoughts. If you are going to relive moments in your life, let them be the moments when you laughed with your children, the moments you when you enjoyed a meal with a friend, the moments when you reached your goals, the moments when you were overcome with joy.
Make today a day worth remembering.