Today the whispers of memory are cloaking my heart. As I release tangible things to other people by donating, toss others into the trash, and prepare my home for new owners and memory-makers, there is a reluctance and sadness hovering.
It’s less difficult to unclench my heart’s fingers from the actual items, than the memories they hold. I am urgently trying to collect all the Last Times—the last time hosting anyone’s sleepy heads in our bedrooms, the last time clanging the pots and pans around and rolling out the dough for guests in the kitchen that has rung with those happy sounds for 30 years…the last time loving and laughing around the family table on the screen porch, the last time skimming my fingers along the ivories of the piano, the last time hearing that creak of the rocker as Scott puts on his shoes…sigh…
Today I am just letting myself feel it. Being grateful for it. Checking the memories’ engraving on my heart.
When you have one parent whose mind succumbed to the memory-robbing disease of Alzheimer’s, and another whose last years are being spent with only fragments of recollection and a great deal of dementia-clouded confusion, it makes those soul-fingers want to feverishly grip all the things that are connected to memory, as if those tangible objects are the memories’ containers, rather than the heart and mind.
What I’ve come to realize is that I am afraid of forgetting–forgetting why I am who I am, and how I’ve become. Forgetting what are all the sweet (and bitter) drops that have been the kneading of the Potter’s hands. All those small moments and large ones that are the foundation for maintaining who I am, the relationships I’ve built, and the support for going forward.
I ask God to help me remember.
It has me thinking of how precious God’s Reminders are…Nature cries out a reminder of His glory, displayed in creative artistry beyond human ability to replicate, though we try in paint, in cloth, in photography. Ocean’s rhythmic slapping against the shore and moonlit nights remind us of His steadfastness. The cycle of seasons reminds us of His faithfulness, and His timing. The joy-filled, struggles-laden life of children and families remind us of His grace and love—His shaping of our journeys for our benefit. His preserved Words remind of the work He has done, and does, deep into the hearts of His people, and all humanity over oceans of time.
This fear I have has me wandering over His word, looking for reassurance. Remembering is important to our heavenly Father! Over and over again He calls us to remember His faithfulness.
Sometimes it is something physical that reminds us of what has shaped us. Once hearts had been returned to God and His people had been rescued once again by Him, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
Without making every object my personal Ebenezer, or giving the objects themselves power, I am reassured that it is okay to select a few to remind me of God’s blessings on this life journey so far. (“A few” is the one of the hardest parts…)
What provision God lavishes on us, in sending us Reminders! We all have them, though maybe not all of them, but we are all graced with some: preachers who tirelessly sift through God’s words and remind us of the Promise-keeper God is…mothers and fathers who remind us of the value they’ve never doubted is there in our hearts, even when buried under layers of callous…friends who cover us with giggles or drape us with loving arms, and help us see past Satan’s barriers of doubt and negativity.
The Holy Spirit is our greatest Keeper of Memories, and most important Truths.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27
Peter was a Reminder. He knew hearts would falter. God knew, and graced him with words of encouragement that would endure, and keep those hearts supported. In relationship, it was he who was the Ebenezer.
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Peter 1:12
These sweet words calm my heart and call me to ask God to help me to remember. They also exhort me to BE a Reminder to others. I am called to be one who speaks joy, encouragement, and a calling to mind of how I see God has worked and is working in the lives of others. When there are things too difficult to explain (who, after all, knows the mind of God?), I can be the Ebenezer that reassures that God is faithful, even in fearful and despairing circumstances. Going forward, I have new energy to make every effort to help others remember God’s faithfulness in His promises, the evidences of His work, the hope in His love.
So, grab a stone or two (or a faded photo or chipped plate) and remember the blessings. Then, stand tall and help others gather theirs. Ask yourself, “Am I a Reminder?”
Be blessed. Be a blessing. (And, if you would, help me when I forget, and help me unclench, and instead open my fingers to God’s remembrances…)