This past week I went back to my hometown to attend two funerals. My Aunt Lovelle and my Aunt Dorothy passed within 24 hours of each other. Their sudden and almost synchronized loss was very difficult for my dad.
As I spent time with him, we shared memories of my aunts. Whether it is a casual walk down memory lane or a regretful glance at the past, memories are important. They contribute to who we are. They also point to who or what was a significant part of our lives.
It’s been a few decades since I lived in my hometown of Gary, Indiana. From the moment I see the “Welcome to Gary” sign, I also began to sense the gravity of being there. Returning to places of significance drums up thoughts and feelings — from the pleasant to the painful.
Is there a recent event that has you thinking about the past? For me, it was the taste of a dish from a local restaurant or the sight of an abandoned building like the Palace Theater (pictured left).
As shadows of “what was” emerge into the here and now, reminiscing begins. And recollections can evoke intense emotions or cause a slight grin to appear. Each memory has a nature uniquely its own.
As I drove through streets of Gary, sometimes I hit a pot hole. The occasional bump reminded me about periods of my life that were far from smooth. Even after coming to faith in Christ, there have been times that my life didn’t reflect my knowledge of His redemption.
It wasn’t long before I realized that we can have memories that don’t just hint at yesteryear — they define it. But they don’t have to define us. Unlike the Palace Theater which is a fragment of its former glory, in Christ our greater glory is still ahead.
Redemptive reminiscing puts every past event in its proper place — into the hands of God. As we do, we can also release our entire range of emotions, from the happiest to the most devastating, into His capable hands.
The guarantees in Scripture are good reasons to filter our memories through what Christ has done and not through what we or others have failed to do. Through Him the old has passed away and all things become new. This would be good news to the neighborhoods and buildings in Gary that are in ruin. But this good news only applies to souls.
So here’s some good news. Whenever our reminiscing takes us to ruined relationships, ruined finances, or seemingly ruined opportunities, we can still have hope.
My aunts knew that hope and they are now experiencing the greatest glory. You and I can too. So while we are on this earth let’s not look at the past in ways that allow us to become embittered. Instead, redemptive reminiscing empowers us to embrace the future with hope in the heart and joy in the soul.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17