Search This Blog

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Selective Memory

 A very crucial part of understanding our personal journeys is that there are chapters in our life-story that we wish had not been written. There are painful memories we wish to not revisit, places we never want to see again, people we hope to never meet with for the rest of our lives. In order to deal with our hurts, make the choice not to deal with them. These things are, to us, better left forgotten. Why rub them in anymore?!
 Like most people, I lived for sometime with self-induced selective memory. To me, certain people, certain places, brought it all back to me, and I didn't like the feeling I got when these flashbacks happened. All I wanted was to stop re-living the emotion of these experiences each time I thought of them or when somebody brought them up to me. 

Just lock those nightmares away away in the secret closet of the mind and never open it. Let them gather dust and be left alone...

This worked for a time. Avoidance did the trick temporarily and yet, there came a point when that secret closet started to bother me. I knew what was behind that closet. I knew all about it. But I simply wanted to forget. I couldn't understand why these unresolved memories kept coming back to haunt me. I tried to run from them, but they still chased after me. Finally, I came to the conclusion that trying to ignore what happened to me didn't actually solve anything. It only left an unresolved chapter, an unfinished story waiting to be completed.  
 If we never go back to the place of pain and come to terms with our innermost feelings of loss, anger, hurt, betrayal, and neglect, we may forever be bearers of a burden no one ever knows. 
 For many years since my dad's hospitalization in 2007, I tried to ignore the emotion of the circumstances, refusing until just a few years ago to even to the hospital for any reason. To me, it signified pain. It reminded of everything I didn't want to remember. As a result, even the grace moments that were intermingled with the pain began to be washed away from my memory. Since my dad's initial health scare, I have had to go back to the hospital several times, most recently this past summer for yet another unexpected scare with my dad's health. The tightness in the chest still grips me, the cold sweaty palms remind me that this place is still a tough spot for me to go to. But I've become willing over the past few years to express to others that this happens. I've been willing to fight my fears of the past with faith. And I've learned that the only way to avoid the lingering effect of personal pain is to put it into the open and face it for what it is.
 As we begin to see dimly through the dark walls of the chasm that is our soul, one thing becomes clear: we are prisoners chained to our past. We cannot escape it. We are slaves to lies, the tragedies, the losses, the failures that brought us here. We are starting to be able to hear the Voice of Truth speaking to us louder, and we sense an inner longing - a deep desire to be free. How we can ever hope to achieve that release that are wanting to be ours seems beyond us. But we wonder... we try to believe that it might be available to us. Can the chains be broken? Can the prisoner be set free?
 For me, this part of the journey was a strange one. I had never thought of myself in terms of being a prisoner of my past. Coming to the realization that I was trapped in the firm hold of my inner darkness was difficult. It was quite painful to admit that the life I knew on the other side of the door had failed me. It had finally dawned on me that I needed to be freed. The darkness was losing its appeal. I struggled to understand why I couldn't shake the chains. Even in my growing desire to obtain a life unbound, I still wasn't willing to fully let go and allow Another to release me from my prison of the soul. I still wanted to be my own liberator. I kept coming up short. I couldn't find my way out. I couldn't see the way of escape. I knew I wanted to be free, but I wasn't looking to the only One who could bring it to me. I began to despair. In my journal, I described what I was feeling:

"I have felt bound by the pain - both inward and outward,
making me unable to feel at peace with God, myself, or 
anyone else. I [can't] accept reality as God [is] writing
it, so I turned inward and looked to myself for the
answers. Withdrawn, broken, and hurting, I began
to distance myself from the things that would give me
hope...I so desperately want to be set free..."

 Prisoners know that their mistakes landed them in this impersonal place. They feel their own misery. But, in some cases, they give up hope of ever getting out of prison. Some even have a sentence to prove they will never be given a chance at freedom. The prison cell will be there home forever. The dark room will never see the light. I think sometimes we can relate...
 We ask ourselves if this is the case with our souls. Is this the way the Supreme Judge gives verdicts? Is God the type that never offers any the opportunity to be redeemed? Even if the physical is bound, can the spiritual become liberated...free to worship and enjoy the One who gave it life? These questions capture our mind. Is there hope for us caught in the dark room? Could the God of the Universe care enough about us to set us free?