“God, please help me. Why do the bad memories crowd out the good memories so easily? Please help me to remember good childhood memories. Were You there, God? With Your love? Even though I didn’t feel You? Please help me to see Your hand in my childhood.”
Do you ever have days when the bad memories seem to take over your mind? Why do negative events sometimes bury the positive events in our lives? Apparently, studies have shown that negative events connected with emotions of sadness and fear stick more in our brain’s memory bank than the happy events. Bad memories also affect our thoughts and actions deeper than happy ones do.
I’ve been trying to dig deeper to reach the good childhood memories that seem so distant compared to the bad ones. Was God there? He had to be. Or I wouldn’t be here today. I knew there was a God then, but I only knew Him as a harsh Judge waiting and almost delighting in punishing me.
But yes, if I really think about it, He must have been there as a God of love. He was there in the nature all around me. The nature I loved and often found solace in.
God was there in the attentiveness and touch of my mother’s hand when I was sick. In her never returning to a doctor that old me to “Shut up!” when I was crying from an earache. Living with a depressed mom wasn’t always easy, and I often wondered what was wrong with me when I couldn’t make her happy. When I’d see her cry and felt deserted when she had to go away because of her depression. But I realize now it’s amazing how my mom still pulled through for us at times when she was present physically and emotionally. And that had to be God who helped her. It was He who helped her break the cycle of how her mother treated her. It was He who gave her a nurturing spirit to encourage me in projects that interested me: keeping an aquarium, raising hamsters, making a frog habitat out of an old canning canister, building terrariums, etc.
God was there to enable my dad to make a living for us. Though money was tight, we never went hungry, and he still managed to send money to my grandma every month. He was there when my dad answered my pleas to go looking for a lost dog. He was there when my dad let me go with my mom to pick out a puppy. Even though my dad’s verbal and sexual abuse was horrible and devastating, I can now see him as a man who inside was a hurting child himself. I know that doesn’t excuse the things he said or did, but I’m grateful that in later years he was sorry and God showed him His love and mercy. I do believe he is now with Jesus as is my mom.
When an abuser is sorry, it helps towards healing. It makes it a bit easier to forgive. Though it’s still an up-and-down, life-time process of healing. My sister and brother were abused by a minister when they were little, and I was when I was in my youth by a different one. But we have never heard an apology from the abusers or church leaders. Not even an acknowledgement that we were indeed abused. That makes it so much harder. But I won’t go there now as I’m trying to focus on good memories…
Back to childhood memories that showed evidence that a loving God truly was there even though I didn’t know it. I have two sisters and four brothers and I love them all so much. It’s a God-thing that with all the turmoil of what our family went through, we still get together, care about each other, and are on good terms with each other. As I search my memory bank, I do remember good times with siblings. We didn’t have a TV, so we were creative with our time. Arm and leg wrestling matches. Sit-up competitions. Singing along with records. Board games like Monopoly and Clue. Ping-pong. Carom. Swimming. Eenie Inie Over and other outside games. Mud pies. Catching fireflies in a jar and watching them glow in my parents’ closet. Birthday cakes and birthday presents. Snowball fights and snowmen. Snow forts and tunnels in huge snowdrifts along the grove. Sledding. Listening to Twins’ baseball games on the radio, fishing in the creek, and milking cows with one of my brothers. Learning experiences with nature. Horse and pony rides. I loved observing and working with all the animals on our farm. Dogs, especially, were my best friends. It had to be a loving God who put both my siblings and animals in my life.
So as I intentionally seek for and focus on good memories, I do see a loving God was still at work. Abuse made me feel the church’s perspective of a harsh God was true. I must have done something wrong. That’s why bad things happen to us. But God is helping me to see that though He is in control of all things, He still gives us a choice. The choice for anyone to do evil towards us is not in God’s character.
God hurts right along with us. His character of love sent His Son to take upon Himself all our sins and the sins done against us. He loves us that much.
Perhaps you can’t think of even one good memory in your childhood. There was a time when my heart was so full of pain that I couldn’t either. And perhaps your life was so awful that there really aren’t any good memories and it’s a wonder you survived. And there is the good memory. You survived, and it was God who pulled you through, even when you didn’t feel it.
Whatever bad that child within us went through and whatever bad we are going through now, God was and is still here. With His love. In every breath we take, even when we don’t want to breathe anymore. It may not feel like it, and it may be a long journey towards believing it deep down in our hearts, but He patiently waits for us to open our wounds to His healing love and grace. Yes, it’s hard, and we can feel so helpless at times to let go of the bad memories and grasp the good ones. But ever so gently He is pulling us forward one step at a time into the light of His faithful love that never abandons us.
“Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is love.”
1 John 4:8
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.”
“O LORD my God, You have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.”
Psalm 40:5 NLT
by David Phelps
Linking up with:
Holley – Coffee For Your Heart
Jennifer – Tell His Story
Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith
Barbie – Weekend Whispers
Lyli – 3-D Lessons for Life