Staying out of the land of forgetfulness

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The other day I opened TimeHop on my phone to see what I posted on that date in past years. I’ve been on Facebook for 10 years and that alone brings up some weird memories, things I don’t remember until the minute I’m reminded by technology! I’m pretty sure journals and calendars are the old school version of TimeHop; it just takes more effort to dig those up and flip to today’s date to find out what was going on. When I saw what I had been doing in past years on that exact date, I realized something: sometimes the grass of our past is greener than the grass of our present or future.

I am super challenged by this verse: “Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (Psalm 88:12). I never want to dwell in the land of forgetfulness not remembering the righteousness of God or his wonders. 

When I’m in the middle of a tough day or difficult week, I can find myself viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. This past week has been one of those more difficult ones. I was sick with the flu, had one recovery day, then Frederick got it. It’s tiring to be sick and take care of sick kids. And sometimes, tiredness just gets to you. On one of those days, I opened TimeHop and instantaneously remembered one year ago, two years ago, five years ago, seven years ago.

While it’s not healthy to dwell in the past, remembering sometimes reminds me to embrace the present for what it fully is. It helps me realize every season has its joys and its difficulties, yet through it all God is present and faithful. It gives us perspective in our present and hope for our future.

One year ago Edith started crawling and instantly became a much happier baby. I recently resigned from my part-time job to be a stay at home mom for the first time ever, 2.5 years after having my first baby. It was an adjustment and God was teaching me so much about trust in His plans rather than mine.

Two years ago I was working part-time, walking Frederick to daycare through treacherous sidewalks while pregnant with Edith. It was during the time I like to call “The Never-Ending Snow Story” because the snow began in mid-November and did not stop until mid-April, and it did not melt at all between those months. Josh and I shared a car and I would drive him to work and pick him up on the days I needed it. We also had a 9 month old puppy who was too big for our house and couldn’t be outside for too long. Needless to say, these days were long and cold and frustrating. Through it all God showed me that the joy of the Lord really is my strength, that I can be content and count it all joy despite the weather, discomfort, inconvenience, and sacrifice.

Five years ago I was teaching 8th grade English in an very rough school. I had 30-45 students in each of my 5 classes until January when some transferred to other schools, others were suspended permanently, and a few were in juvenile detention. I arrived at work at 6:30 am and left at 6:00 pm. Obtaining, maintaining, and exercising respect from inner-city 8th graders is an almost inhuman feat of strength. The day school ended in June I got sick and was flat on my back for three full weeks. That year God showed me how to exercise the authority that was mine; He showed me what it meant to change the atmosphere of a room just by inviting the Holy Spirit and walking in confidence in who I am as a child of God.

Seven years ago I was in my last year of university living in Toronto. I loved school and worked part-time as a note-taker. That year there was a strike and for 12 weeks, from November to February, the school was closed. I couldn’t get another job because the strike could end any minute and I finished all my assignments the first couple weeks of the strike. I went stir crazy. You can only watch so many movies, read so many books, and drink so many cups of tea and coffee before cabin fever sets in big time. I learned patience and peace during those weeks. Patience without being anxious and peace without strings attached.

Throughout Psalms we’re reminded over and over to “remember.” In Deuteronomy, God continually tells the people to remember and to tell their children about the past. There’s no way I’ve learned all there is to know about trust, joy, authority, peace and patience, but there’s a reason we’re encouraged to “forget not all of His benefits” (Psalm 103:2). When we remember the past and how God met us and showed himself faithful in good times and bad, it reminds me that even when we’re weak He’s strong and we can go from strength to strength in Him. We are able to embrace what He’s doing in and through our lives today because years from now we can look back and recount His faithfulness again and again.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
 As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
 They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.

Psalm 84:5-7

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