We are a product of our memories …
I heard someone make that comment a few days ago. It’s true. We do not encounter the present moment with a “clean slate,” but with the blessing and the burden of our memories. Our memories shape the ways we interpret and react to the situations we encounter. And our memories direct our steps. We try to create or find situations that will duplicate our good memories and we try to avoid situations that may duplicate our bad memories.
When we accumulate enough of one or the other, they become solidified, as it were, into a mindset, an outlook, a way of being. Enough good memories encourage us to welcome the future with open arms, expecting more. But enough bad memories make us fear the future and despise the present.
So how do you change a mindset? Are we prisoners of our memories — good or bad?
Memories cannot be altered, but the way they are put together may be. A mindset is not the product of the memories themselves, but of the way we interpret them, the way we retell the stories. That is the key — storytelling. The story is the means of making sense of the memories, of understanding and assimilating their meanings. But we can learn a new story! We can retell our old stories in new ways!
That is what forgiveness is about … not changing the past, but changing the way we feel about it, changing the way we think about it, changing the way we tell its story. I once was lost, but now I’m found! Faith is about learning to see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus, of learning to see ourselves as Jesus sees us, of learning to love ourselves as Jesus loves us.
We cannot change our memories, but they may become good memories as we begin to comprehend the “big picture” of our lives and see the hand of God at work from beginning to end. It’s a good story … with a most happy ending!