I don’t know about you, but some of my memories are pretty great and some are pretty awful. Even the great ones can hurt a lot when they are connected to a loss of some sort. A friend I no longer have a close connection with. A move to a new job, location, school. A friend or family member who has passed away. I tend to want to avoid remembering these things because I hate pain. I don’t want to cry; I don’t want to show emotion. I want to be “strong” and “okay.”
Our pastor is preaching through a series on the book of Romans and this past Sunday he started on Romans 6. As he was going, he reviewed previous chapters’ material because he wanted to bring to mind what we had learned so far. He kept telling us we need to remember. We need to remember what God has done for us and who He is or else we return to our enslavement to sin, we become discouraged. We can become ineffective.
Over and over: Remember.
My mom used to tell me whenever I was going somewhere without her or my dad: “Remember whose you are.” I remember distinctly one time we were in the car and I was particularly nervous about going somewhere. My mom said that and I responded with: “I’m yours.” And she told me I wasn’t. I was God’s. That conversation has stuck in my mind. Remember.
When my husband and I were going through a particularly difficult season, I was absolutely broken. He took me to the book of Job, gave me some questions to go through and ultimately encouraged me to remember. Remember who God is. Remember what He has done for me. Remember.
What do these three things have to do with our experiences of grief?
We tend to try very hard to forget our grief. We want to avoid the pain. We want to be strong and ok. But when we remember honestly, we honor our grief. We stay connected to the ones we have lost. And we are able to allow those painful moments to turn into beautiful moments.
Often when we think on what God has done for us, there is a twinge of pain associated with it. We realize how undeserving we are. How much we have done to slap God in the face. It hurts, but then the joy of knowing we are dearly loved anyway by the God who is far above anything we can even pretend to imagine. Our moments of remembering loss can be similar. We hurt at the initial thought of what we no longer have, but we can rejoice at what we did have.
Those precious moments that we shared with someone are so special. They are beautiful. We must let ourselves remember because those memories are what today is built upon. We would not be who we are without those moments. Those moments when we were teachable (like in the car with my mom) and those moments when we were stubborn (many of those pop readily to mind). We have grown because of those moments. And many of the wonderful memories we have now were at the time tinged with a bit of pain. Growing hurts. But it’s so worth it!
So let this pain grow you. Let these memories that pop to mind be a chance to learn to love in a new way. Let these moments train you to become more compassionate, more able to connect to the lives of others. Let it be a chance to become more than you are today. Cliche though it is… Bloom where you are planted.