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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Good Memories in the Midst of Everything


Memories from a lifetime

After posting my last blog, an anonymous reader posted a comment.  You could go back and look at it yourself, but it simply was that he thanked me for what I shared, and then wrote:

              “There are good memories in spite of some that are not so good.                                                                                    All of it is relevant to where we are today.”

I kind of liked what he/she said, do you?  Because I think there is some good wisdom in it.  So I thought I’d use it to elaborate a bit on some important concepts. 

The first part of the comment points out that mixed in with the memories that are painful or sad or tragic there are also the memories that bring us joy and good feelings.  Now most of us realize this is true.  Most experiences in life have something in them that can bring us joy or meaning.  But very few experiences are “perfect.”  Weddings almost always have some little glitch that brings frustration.  Family reunions often include some moments of tension.  Though we may be excited to move into new home or apartment, we may still miss the old neighborhood, and will inevitably find something in the new space that isn’t quite what we had hoped it would be.  Everything comes with mixed baggage.  But divorce, like many experiences in life, can so absorb our energy and our focus in such a way that we have a hard time seeing those good moments because the awful experiences loom so large.  But as the comment suggest, there are always both.  Sometimes it takes intentional effort on our part to remember that, and then to look for the things that are good. 

I have some friends who are currently in the midst of some pretty serious medical crises.  She is in the hospital recovering from an emergency surgery, and her husband is handling all the things that come with such an event.  He is one of those “glass half full” sort of guys, and so as he talks about all the difficult things that are going on, he always say that if you watch closely, you will see that God is always doing something.  We sometimes merely need to have ears to hear and eyes to see to be able to rise above the hardships.  In a lot of ways, it is the old “every cloud has a silver lining,” except we are not merely talking about what we might see afterwards, but being able to see in the midst of the storm itself.  How important it is that we find ways in the hard moments of life to notice the little things that bring us joy and meaning.

 The comment also includes a reference to the perspective and emotions that come each day.  While the writer did not explain exactly what is meant, I think it is fair to realize that perspective and time make a huge difference.  Sixteen years ago, I could see nothing good about my getting divorced.  A friend asked me if there wasn’t something which I was looking forward to, and the only thing I could speak of at the time was an upcoming birthday trip I had arranged for my daughter and I in celebration of her 16th birthday.   Everything else looked bleak.  Now, all these years later, with the emotional upheaval behind me and so much of the pain healed, I find that there are a lot of good things that have come in my life beyond the pain.  Even as I grieve the loss of my parents, perspectives change day by day.  Some days my emotions are more fragile, and I have a hard time seeing the good.  Other days, I find much to look forward to and the memories hold a special place of joy for me rather than mere sorrow. 

And so, I resonate with the comment that was made, and would encourage all of us to realize that the blend of life with good things and hard things is what brings richness to living, and that with the passing of time, things that seem awful in the moment may become beautiful memories as they are shaped by the growth we experience.  So if you are feeling down or low today, remember it is just today.  Tomorrow may be better, or a year from now may be when you see things fresh.  And resist the urge to become so focused on the overwhelming things that you are not also noticing the little God moments right there in the midst of the struggle.  

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