That spot on my favorite sweatshirt bugs me every time I wear it. It’s probably not visible to anyone else, but whenever I take it out of the drawer, I can’t help but think back to exactly where I was and whom I was with and even what it was I managed to drip on myself!
My memory is filled with all sorts of similar useless bits of information. I can remember what I was wearing in Ireland twenty years ago. I can remember what Mike had to eat on Tuesday during our vacation to Myrtle Beach two years ago (that one’s pretty easy – he usually has fish). I can also remember where we were the night before we got engaged, what we had for dinner and how our conversation drifted casually to where we might like to go on a honeymoon (little did I know it wasn’t so casual to him)!
The funny little memories color my life. But often I find myself remembering the wrong things, specifically the wrongs I’ve done and the wrongs that have been done against me. It’s so easy to flip through a mental list, and find lots of feelings and emotions attached to specific events.
Forget: 1 a : to lose the remembrance of : be unable to think of or recall <I forget his name> b obsolete : to cease from doing 2 : to treat with inattention or disregard <forgot their old friends> 3 a : to disregard intentionally (www.m-w.com)
We’re told over and over again to not forget, to remember . . . what God has done for us. And yet when it comes to wrongdoings, ours and others, we are not to keep record. Why is it so easy to get this backwards? We forget the goodness and mull over the transgressions. Remembering is an intentional act that requires mental discipline. In order to keep no record of wrongs, we must cease replaying the incident or conversation in our heads. But I think in order to do that, we must replace it with something else. If something does trigger a memory (a restaurant, for example, that was the site of a difficult conversation), can we intentionally replace that trigger with another thought? Perhaps every time we pass that restaurant, we make it a point to pray for the difficult situation that person must be dealing with.
I’m not sure God ever forgets anything. But the psalmist assures me in Psalm 103 that he will not always accuse, and that he’s removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. And in I Corinthians 13, love is described as not keeping any record of wrongs. I used to think this meant God just forgot about our sins, and that I too needed to just forget about things. Not so much anymore. I think he chooses instead to not dwell on our wrongs. I think there’s more honor in wisely managing the memories God has given us, remembering the goodness and refusing to dwell on the wrongs.