I’m that friend that digs up old photos of you, and usually those photos aren’t exactly flattering.
And the usual response to when I show friends photos of their younger, more embarrassing self, is ‘WHY?!‘ And it is a valid question – why would I dig up the past?
I actually do that a lot – digging up the past. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the feeling of nostalgia, or maybe it’s because I’m a sadist (as some of my friends would put it). But if you catch me staring off into the distance and it actually looks like I’m thinking about something, it’s probably me reminiscing.
One of the reasons for my penchant for reflection is that because I don’t actually have a good memory, so I revisit past moments often to keep them as memories. Because I forget easily, even if the matter is super important or the moment is life-changing.
Therefore, I thrive on to-do lists, post-it notes, diaries, reminders, taking photos, sending my friends reminder texts that were meant for me, writing things down.
My forgetfulness is why I journal. One journal is to chat with God about what’s going on my life; the other’s to keep track of my daily praise reports and prayer requests. Not only do I have to write down the things I want to remember (kinetic learning), I end up reading what I wrote after a while (visual learning).The act of writing down is two-step process that prevents my memories from being forgotten.
I believe that memories make us who we are.
My friend and I were talking about how we figured out our own steps for the future.
I said I look to the past to figure out the way forward. He said incredulously that looking back on the past the last thing he liked doing, because the past is riddled with the bad stuff he’d rather forget.
I agree with him to an extent. I’m not advocating reliving traumatic moments, nor am I pushing you to revisit moments that you’re not ready to bring back.
But it’s important to acknowledge that there WERE storms, because the storms we’ve weathered in the past prove to us now that we can weather the storm(s) we are facing right now, and the ones we are going to face.
Because to God, all the storms have been overcome, regardless of whether we have overcome them or if we are going to overcome them.
For us humans, we see time as this linear causation where one thing will affect the other.
God exists outside of the concept of time.
But if God created time, He can’t be constricted by time, His own creation. Therefore, He is above and beyond time.
I thought, at first, maybe God co-exists within time in multi-dimensions like those 3D graphs that my brain cannot visually comprehend, simultaneously within the past, present and future.
But perhaps “Jeremy Bearimy” is the best way to describe how God’s experience of time is incomprehensible to the human brain. (Watch the video, it’s only 3 minutes of hilarity!)
And what’s extra cool about God’s power existing regardless of time is that Jesus says things like ‘take heart for I have overcome the world‘ like it’s in the past already. He talks about what we should do next in the Sermon on the Mount like it’s in the present.
So if the entire eternity is in the past for He has overcome, and if the future is about what I do now, then who am I to worry about my future, and whether the mistakes of my past will be bigger than a bright future ahead of me?
One of my fondest memories is when I was having dinner with a group of random close friends from all walks of my NYC life. It was one of my last meals in New York. And one of the dear friends, Payton (I have to shout her out here), said that the table had to go around saying their favourite thing about me, including me.
Wonderful things were said about me around that table, and the coolest part about the compliments about me was that I was able to directly link memories I shared with that person to see where the truth about me stemmed from.
For example, one of my friends shared that she loved my wisdom (that was it, she only said ‘my favourite thing about Grace *pause* is her wisdom’), and I saw our 10-year friendship through her framework and I was so humbled that God never wasted the gift of wisdom that He blessed me with.
If I didn’t remember moments in our friendship, then her compliment would’ve been just a compliment, and not a truth-filled and faith-building assurance that I could hold onto after leaving New York.
It’s one thing to squander your talents and gifts, but I’d say that perhaps what’s just as bad as never doing anything is when we forget what we already have experienced. This includes the bad stuff too.
Because if we forget what God has done in our lives, we forget how good He has been to us. And when we forget that God was good, is good, and will always be good, we lose sight of our source of hope, identity and purpose.
At that dinner, I said that my favourite thing about myself is that I’m secure, and that’s why I’m able to adapt to any situation I’m in or whoever I’m around without ever feeling like I’m compromising who I am.
A huge part of why I’m able to reflect with ease is not because my life has been ‘easy’ but because I am secure.
The past doesn’t define me, and thankfully so because I’ve done some stupid things. And your past shouldn’t define you, especially not the mistakes and the regrets.
However, it is incredibly important to acknowledge your past and be honest about it in order to refine yourself, and not let it define you. Otherwise you’d run the risk of being lost and repeating the past.
This sense of security I have is a mixture of boldness and peace. This security in who I am allows me to take the crazy risks that I do, to open up and stay soft in a harsh world, and to look at my past for what it is: a part of me.
If I didn’t go through what I’ve been through, then I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.
So as I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to explore this question: How can my everyday actions bring me closer to the visions and dreams placed on my heart? So, I hope I did in this post!