In the fantasy book, A Deliverer Comes, Ollie tries to help Zoraoh learn to use a gift, where those of noble blood, mind speak. During a lesson, Zoraoh stumbles into one of Ollie’s painful childhood memories in which he was being beaten. Ollie is startled and a little embarrassed to find Zoraoh inside his memory. In his memory, Zoraoh speaks words of love telling Ollie’s younger self that he was just a boy and did not deserve what was happening. Ollie finds out later that when he recalls this incident it no longer brings the pain it once did.
Later in the story, Ollie finds out he has the power to control memories in other people. He can change them or even erase them. As he discusses this new skill with his friends, they talk about the pros and cons of his power. What if a person had a painful memory that was preventing him or her from moving forward? Would it be okay to use it then? One of his friends reminds the group that we are our memories whether they are good or bad. A memory is much more than just the knowledge.
If a memory is missing, there would be a disconnect. A person’s body could react to something and not know why. A smell or sound could illicit a response that doesn’t make sense. As they continue the discussion, Ollie tells them the story of Zoraoh stepping into his memory and bringing healing. The group decides the better way forward would be to figure out how to be bring healing to those memories rather than erase them.
This story came to mind as I was researching long term memory as part of my continuing education. According to Very Well Mind, the strength of a long term memory is related to how often that memory is recalled. Each time a memory is recalled and stored again, it is recoded so that it changes slightly. This explains how two people who experienced the same event have different memories of that event.
I am not expert on how the brain works, but I would like to think that we have a choice in how a memory is recoded. For example, when my husband and I were married, he was working for a small church in Tennessee as a music and youth minister. I was starting graduate school but had almost taken a teaching job at a school down the road that was a different denomination from our church. One afternoon I receive a phone call from a lady in our church who started yelling at me and accused me of trying to recruit students for the school. I was young, new to this town and church, and didn’t even know this lady. The call took me by surprise. I tried to explain the best I could that it was all a misunderstanding. I don’t remember how the conversation ended. I only remember walking over to the church and bawling out my story to my husband and our pastor. What came next, I don’t fully remember except that the love that I was shown by the church staff and one of the church ladies overrode that conversation. Looking back, I see God surrounding me with his people and a lady who was defensive about something that wasn’t really that important.
What if we recoded our memories through God-colored glasses? This is not like rose colored glasses where everything is going to turn out okay and life is always good. Instead, we take our memories to God remembering that he knows the big picture and can redeem even our memories by his grace. It might mean looking back on a situation where you were sure you were justified in being angry at someone and suddenly seeing the other person’s point of view. He/she was hurting too just in a different way. Or it could be a memory of being rejected by a friend. Isn’t God able to take that rejection and help us see how he used it to make us more like himself? Isn’t he able to help us forgive and not hold onto the hurt?
Now I am fully aware there are memories that are so traumatizing and painful that this seems impossible. If you are have memories that are keeping you from fully living in God’s grace, I encourage you to talk to a trained Christian counselor who can help you process those memories. It won’t be easy, but the end result will be healing. Remember God is in the process of bringing healing to each one of us if we will only let him.
Do you have a memory that needs healing? Have you taken it to God to see it from his perspective? Do you need to talk it out with a friend or even a counselor? I pray you will find the peace and healing and love that you need.