Friday, August 7, 2015


Memory: it's the best of times, and the worst of times.

It plays tricks on us by way of our emotions and prior expectations.

For the third time in five years, I am going through files and purging. The extra has already been long recycled and this time the purge is reducing what started as four file cabinet drawers (five years ago) to two folders that could fit into a three inch binder (today). Ouch.

It's tough to let go of hard work. It's hard to come to terms with the changing fields of my life and the teaching profession.

At the bottom of one box were journals. Yes, those had already been reduced to the ones from the most important time spans of the past 20 years.

One brought a smile, with teen crush details.

But the third journal began on Christmas Eve 2005: the first Christmas Nick and I were dating. Eight weeks later I departed to study in France for five months.

On the second page, I wrote about one of the bleakest times of my life. At the time, emotions and my soul had such turmoil that my body felt like it had the flu, or like I was drunk with confusion and shame. My memory at age 31 had painted a scene in which I was alone. But reading through my journal from 10 years ago, I had written down that Nick came with me.

He was there at that awful moment.

For many of us, keeping a journal for our own reflection helps focus thoughts. We're extroverts needing a conversational partner in order to even discover what we're thinking. For others, keeping a journal is setting down thoughts that we've ruminated on and decided upon. We're introverts needing a concise, precise place to curate what we're thinking.

Tonight's digging and discarding, and especially tonight's sidetracked moment to skim a few journal entries reminded me of more. Keeping a journal and going back to review it helps us see moments where God was with us.

My memory had narrowed a moment and gotten it wrong from 10 years ago. Have you done this with bitterness? Sadness? Depression? Anger?

Memory had also made some circumstances larger than they had been in the moment. Issues of importance had gained high relief over the years.

Memory had pushed aside small daily thanksgivings and prayers. But there they stood in black ink. God's faithfulness recounted.

Ten years later, I can see where God was in the good and the bad moments. Now I can see the enlargement that he's grown in our marriage and lives.

It's hard to journal in this present season of being a mom of little ones. So, I'd like to hear your ideas.

How do you curate and file memories, good and bad? How do you take time to notice and remember small daily thanksgivings and prayers? I'd like to learn from you.

1 comment:

  1. I've never journaled, but your observation that memories change over time is absolutely true: our emotions affect memories greatly, even to the point of changing what we think happened.