Today I found myself thinking back to a moment a few months ago that I was completely embarrassed about. Disappointed in myself, really. Not my shining moment. I immediately shoved it right back to the place that it came from...locked in a filing cabinet somewhere back deep inside my brain that only Jesus and I have access to. The fact is, I tend to be a fairly nostalgic person, so I frequently visit the past, and "getting over things" can be outside of my abilities, if you want to know the truth. I can find myself drifting back to the days of yore (cerca 1995), or perhaps my college years--you know, the good times. The days when I was footloose and fancy free, not a care in the world I say! Or so I might think. I think back to my childhood, the days before having to do taxes, search for a job, and all I had to do was play with my rollerblade Barbie and watch the sparks come out of her inline skates (Hmmm...as I'm writing this, I'm beginning to wonder if this was the safest toy for a child to have...it's a miracle I am alive).
And when I think back on my past, even those years I associate with complete euphoria--those years that you think, "these are the things life was made for!"--I realize that they have been conveniently edited of the hard times. Because upon further examination and honest reflection, I realize there are quite a few embarrassing moments (oh my GOODNESS am I so glad that blogs were not the mainstream when I was a teen...the private journals are embarrassing enough), moments of great sadness, trials, tribulations, heartbreak and heartache, disappointments with myself, frustrations and fights with friends and family. And I find myself trying to brush these more painful memories off. There are things that I have done that I am not proud of, hurtful words I've said, moments that I'd rather leave in the past, buried somewhere deep and secretive. Because they might just expose me for all that I am, and that is something I'd just as soon keep dark and hidden, locked away for no one else to see.
Because the thing is that in so many ways, these are the memories that I need to embrace. That I need to reframe into something beautiful, because these times, just as much as the happy ones. The fights, those mistakes, the disappointments, these are the things that have made me who who I am, as well as shaped the deep, meaningful, beautiful friendships that I have today. I am a mess, and whether any of us want to believe that about ourselves or not, it's really by the grace of God that I have any of the wonderful people that I do in my life. Donald Miller writes about living a good story, and the thing is, living a good story means that you cannot edit out the parts that you want. You can't get the abridged version--it's so much more meaningful to have the whole thing at your fingertips. It is through the experience of something that we determine to be painful or non-pleasurable that we begin to truly understand the greatness in something else. Well now I'm just getting preachy. But I think these things are true--for how much more do we learn to truly savor bliss when we have experienced pain, love companionship when we have really lived being alone (or for that matter, appreciate solitude when we do not have quiet), or appreciate success when we have failed so many times before.
I've been reading a lot of blogs lately about zen and meditation and minimalism and living in the present. I appreciate these blogs for a variety of reasons, and they help me reflect and live intentionally. There is a big focus on living in the present, and only the present. We talk a lot about how we can't change the past, and of course this is true. But memories are so very important, and I imagine this is why God gave us a memory in the first place (though I find myself continually forgetting things, which is frightening because I am only 26 and have not abused any sort of substances that might explain this phenomenon...). I'll agree that it is important to not live in the past or dwell in it, but there is a certain value in memories--because it is our experiences and our pasts that have made us who we are in the present and who we will be in the future.