“It became a custom in Israel that for four days every year the young women of Israel went out to mourn for the daughter of Jephthah….”
Judges 11: 39, 40
“What To Remember and What To Forget”
“Forgetting is the cost of living cheerfully.”
What would it mean to me to forget the past hurts that haunt my memories?
What does the phrase, “Forgive and forget,” mean?
Would it be better to learn to remember and still forgive?
“I think one should forgive and remember…If you forgive and forget in the usual sense, you’re just driving what you remember into the subconscious; it stays there and festers. But to look, even regularly, upon what you remember and know you’ve forgiven is achievement.”
“Back on its golden hinges, the gate of memory swings, and my heart goes into the garden and walks with the olden things.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Forgetting and remembering – two powerful forces that like magnets draw us into a web of memories that form the patterns of our lives.
As we have studied the life of Jephthah’s daughter, I have found myself reflecting more than usual on how these two elements – the ability to forget and the ability to remember -- become such catalysts for the behavior in our lives.
In Judges 11: 39, 40, we are told that the Israelite women gathered each year for four days to remember one of their own – a young girl they did not ever want to forget. A woman whose life-experiences may well have mirrored their own. As I thought about the gathering of these women, I asked myself, “If a group of my female friends gathered together, what would we be remembering and what would we want to forget?”
How about you? What in your life experience do you want to remember and why? And on the flip-side of the coin, what would you like to forget?
One thing I have found, as time has passed by in my own journey, is that the words of Lady Murasaki ring true: “How swiftly the locks rust, the hinges grow stiff on doors that close behind us.” She could easily have added that the colors of our memories also fade. And when this happens the way we remember and forget changes. Certain memories become more vivid while others lack clarity.
This is why, when it comes to forgetting and remembering in each of our lives, the place to go for grounded instruction is the Word of God – the Bible.
I’d like to offer a beautiful passage of Scripture which can guide us throughout our lives in the decisions we make, especially as we move forward each day, desiring to live joyful lives that are mapped-out by God’s plan for each of us.
In Psalm 25: 6, 7 (Amplified Bible) David made this request of his Heavenly Father, “Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercy and loving-kindness, for they have been ever from of old. Remember not the sins, the lapses and frailties of my youth or my transgressions, according to your mercy and steadfast love, remember me, for Your goodness sake, O Lord.”
David asked God to remember what a kind and loving God, He was. It was as though David was reminding God, not of any goodness David had, but instead of the great goodness God had. Then David asked God to forget his (David’s) past mistakes and “frailties.” Finally, David ended his plea with these words: “This is how I want You, my Heavenly Father, to remember me.”
What I find so eye-opening about this passage is that David never wanted God to forget him, he wanted God to forget, through His loving-kindness, the faults his life contained and the mistakes he had made. As one author so poignantly wrote, “God’s forgiveness is His refusal to let our guilty past affect His relationship with us.” This is exactly what David was asking for – a healed relationship in spite of David’s failures.
What does it sound like to have a Father in heaven who remembers you for the best you are and forgets you for the worst you have been? I know it sounds fabulous, tremendous and glorious to me! In fact, it sounds impossible, except this is the loving-kindness our Father promises is ours from “everlasting to everlasting.”
I will add, that if this is the type of love which has been showered down upon my life, shouldn’t this be the type of love I generously shower upon those in my life, too? As Martyn Lloyd-Jones so aptly penned, “It is idle for us to say we know God has forgiven us if we are not loving and forgiving ourselves.”
What do I choose to remember and what do I choose to forget? What if you and I take our blueprint from David’s request of God and then bestow heaven’s gift of merciful kindness and everlasting-love on those in our lives. As a result we will forget the worst and remember the best.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
“Teach me to feel another’s woe;
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him (with reverence, worship, and awe). For He (God) knows our frame. He (God) earnestly remembers and imprints on His heart that we are dust…But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting….”
Psalm 103: 12-14
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