blind monkeyDo you sometimes wish you could ‘unsee’ things? Do you wish that you could delete what you have seen in the same way that you can delete the viewing history in a browser?

As a boy I remember stumbling (!) across a small stash of items in the bottom of my parents’ wardrobe that were clearly intended to be Christmas presents. I was excited to have found them but later wished I hadn’t as it spoilt the surprise on the day.

After watching an emotion-wrenching and draining television programme a friend of mine commented that they wished they could unsee it. I saw the same programme and can empathise with that feeling.

Perhaps you were sent a letter or an email and, after reading it, you wish you hadn’t and could delete the memory of it from your brain.

At the heart of these things we often find an emotional response has become associated with the memory and when we recall the memory we recall and relive the emotion which makes the memory more difficult to cope with. I am sure psychologists and counsellors would help with the particularly traumatic ones, but what about all of the smaller things that you wish you could unsee? We can’t get therapy for everything!

In time (probably) the impact of the emotional reflex will diminish as the significance of the event fades. It may help to talk about it with someone who knows you well and whom you trust – asking them to help you get a fresh perspective on things.

But we can also use those things to help us to learn and grow as individuals:

I learnt that the joy of finding presents before they are given diminishes the excitement and surprise of receiving them and didn’t go rummaging stumbling in my parents’ wardrobe again.

My friend could decide not to watch any more of the programmes in that series, or perhaps to watch them at a time when they have the space and company to help them process what they saw.

Your memory of how you felt when reading that letter or email can help you think about the impact of messages you send and perhaps soften the approach.

You see what I mean?

This is not ground-breaking therapeutic news. We learn and grow by experience. It’s what people have been doing with ‘stuff’ since Thag got tummy ache after eating some dodgy berries.

But in our multimedia internet-dependent world do we sometimes forget to do the learning and growing as we click and tap from experience to experience? By reacting and splurging on social media almost as these things happen to us we may fail to give ourselves the space to process, reflect and think before responding.

Psalm 27 is attributed to David – the shepherd boy who became Israel’s most successful king. It’s clearly written at a time when he was under threat. He had taken the time to pause, reflect and respond to what was happening – perhaps writing the psalm was an ancient form of blogging – and these reflections led him to these gentle, final words: “Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

David had clearly learnt that rushing in with a response is not always the best way ahead, and to wait for God’s timing is best.

That’s something I hope I never forget and don’t want to unsee!

Be blessed, be a blessing



memories are made for these

Remember 1At this season of remembrance I pondered why it is that God made us with memory. Why did he create us with the ability to remember things, people, events, PIN codes and passwords (sometimes)?

As I pondered I realised that memory is an astonishing gift:

  • Good things that have happened in the past continue to bless us and cause us to smile as we remember them. The moment of happiness is extended in time and the joy is magnified.
  • Important people remain with us in our memories, even after we have lost contact with them or if they have died. The impact that people have had on us, the love we have experienced and shared, the life we have shared with them continues.
  • We don’t need to repeat our mistakes. If we didn’t remember we might find ourselves constantly doing the same things wrong or injuring ourselves. Memories of failure can haunt us and guilt can shackle us, but we can also use them to guide us so we have more chance of avoiding doing them again.
  • We have hope for the present and the future. The Bible is full of encouragements for God’s people to remember – remember God’s goodness, graciousness, faithfulness and love in the past. When the times are tough and we find it more difficult to sense God’s presence or aren’t sure what he’s up to we can remember how he was there for us in the past and be reassured that he’s with us now and will be no matter what. That is one reason why it is wonderful to have Bibles – we can read of God’s faithfulness to others and be encouraged about his faithfulness to us.
  • It draws us closer to God. Jesus told his friends to eat bread and drink wine ‘in remembrance of me’. I find that the occasions when I share bread and wine with other believers are special. They don’t just draw us together but they draw us closer to Jesus as we remember the depths of his love for us.

There’s a lot more to be said about memory, but let me leave you with this thought (and a cheesy joke warning beyond the blessing which you may want to avoid if you are being led into a special place with God right now). Whatever emotions are evoked by your memories, God is there with you. He is in the happiness and the sadness. He is in the laughter and tears. He is in the celebration and regret. He gave us memory and inhabits the memories.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A loving couple were celebrating their Wedding Anniversary with friends. The husband was talking with his friends, and one of them asked him how long they had been married. The husband thought for a while and then leant over to his closest friend.

“What’s that sort of flower that has prickles on the stem, comes in different colours and you give red ones on Valentine’s Day?” he whispered.

“A rose?” suggested his friend.

“That’s right!” the husband beamed. He called out, “Rose, how long have we been married now?”