CHOOSY MEMORY

Sometimes I wish I had a better memory. I have a tendency to forget things, like people’s names, or an important phone number, or the exact content of certain conversations. It can be really annoying, both for me and for the victims of my forgetfulness.

I recently read about a woman who has the opposite problem. Her name is Jill Price, and her memory has been the subject of scientific tests for many years, because she never forgets anything. She is able to remember every detail of everyday since 1980: What time she got up, what she did, who she met, and what she ate. You can name a date and within seconds she can tell you what day of the week it was and what took place on that day.

Neuroscientists are intrigued by her "condition", but she considers it a curse. She says, "Some memories are good and give me a warm safe feeling. But I also recall every bad decision, insult, and excruciating embarrassment. Over the years it has eaten me up." She blames her memory for many years of depression.

In high school I had a friend with a photographic memory, though not to level or extent of Jill. She told me once that she had to learn "choosy memory." Otherwise, when people asked about her day, she would tell them everything: about choosing her dress and fixing her hair and every song she heard on the radio and every street sign she passed and on and on. She had to learn to make the choice to not remember every little thing about every single day. If Ms. Price could do the same thing, I'm sure she would.

We need to learn to do the same. We need to learn to forget — to intentionally not remember — certain details of our lives. Which details? The details of those events which do not empower us to live a godly life in Christ Jesus. Reliving the shame of a sin you committed yesterday or 30 years ago will not help you live in Christ today. Remembering the humiliation of a past defeat or the pain of a past rejection will not empower you to move toward the prize today.

That's why Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

It's a choice you make. It's not always easy, because memories (especially the worst ones) can be tenacious. Every pastor, every leader, every parent, every spouse, every Christ-follower needs to learn choosy memory.

You don't have to dwell on the past. In fact, we are commanded to put it behind us and to start looking ahead. You have God's permission to forget everything from yesterday that doesn't strengthen you today.

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