What if the last 5 years were erased from your memory? They still happened and exist in the memories of others, but you don’t remember them. What would be gone? For sure, there would be good and bad memories that are lost, and at first maybe the thought of redoing the last 5 years is somewhat appealing. But when considering all that is really lost, the idea becomes an exercise in appreciation for life, struggles and all.
If the last 5 years of my life were erased from my memory, I would not remember the pain of several surgeries and sports injuries. But I would also not remember the healing process through those circumstances and all that I learned about myself as a result. I would also have to relearn how to change habits such as the way I eat and how I exercise. If I lost the last 5 years of memories, I would not remember the struggle of bringing our youngest son into our home at age 9 and having to discipline and fight with getting him to unlearn bad habits and learn positive ones. I would not remember crying with him as he realizes the consequences he is living as the result of others choices. But, I would also not remember the joy of his silly remarks, the fact that his laughter is so infectious, and the progress he’s made as a person. I would not see the contrast in his life over the past two years that gives me hope to know that God rescues the hurting. Come to think of it, I would have no memory of my son at all.
If my memory of the last 5 years was suddenly gone, I would not remember the struggle of teaching my oldest son to write better or to be a good big brother after being an only child for 11 years or to understand that people are often selfish and that life hurts sometimes. I would also not remember him developing a love of running and of reading as well as what it was like to see him become a terrific older brother. Losing 5 years of memories would erase depression caused by poor nutrition as well as the feelings of distance from my husband because of that depression. But the feelings of reawakening as I came out of that darkness and then fell in love again would also be gone.
Would I think I was five years younger? Would I feel like the memories beyond the five years were current, or would there just be an empty space in my memory? Even though I wouldn’t remember the events that happened in those 5 years, I still would be the person they created, right? Or, would I revert to being the person I was before those 5 years? Would I know God the way I do today if I didn’t have the memories of Him working in my life the way He has during the last 5 years? After all, isn’t my current spiritual maturity the result of the victories He’s brought out of the struggles in my life?
We are a sum total of all the events in our lives, the good as well as the bad. The events over the past 5 years have shaped me into who I am today. The bad memories provide the contrast needed to enjoy the good. The struggles caused me to grow and to become closer to the people in my life. I love my husband and kids the way I do today because of the memories we’ve had together over the past 5 years.
As you go about your day today, think of everything you do in the context of whether or not you would know how to do it if you lost the memory of the past 5 years. Would you understand what a blog is? Would you know how to cook a certain recipe? Would you know how to get to your place of work or to your kids’ school? Would you know your child’s eating habits or favorite toys? Think about the struggles you’ve gone through over the past 5 years and the victories that came out of them. What life lessons that were so hard fought for would simply be lost?
Yes, we are the sum total of all of the events, both good and bad, in our lives. While we certainly sometimes wish that some of the bad would not have happened, we can’t deny that when we have embraced the lessons learned in those events that they become infinitely valuable and not something we want to lose.
Note: This blog was inspired by seeing the movie “The Vow.” While it is certainly a love story, there’s more to it than that. I recommend it for anyone wanting a perspective check.