Forget what you thought you knew, we’re told. Remember what you have forgotten. But with the increased speed of technology and the oversaturation of information it brings, it can be hard to remember what exactly we need to remember. And in times of stress or recovery from a traumatic event, even simple memory tasks—recalling a loved one’s name or that funny remark a friend made only hours ago—can feel frustratingly difficult.
When it comes to the inner workings of the mind, God cares about our thoughts, not just our souls. He wants to bring our minds and memories to wholeness. When we feel our mental limits, the Lord remembers us. We do not have to be frantic when we forget something, because he sees and cares for us. He holds time and truth and will not let us go. God’s thoughts may be “too wonderful” for us and “too lofty” to attain (Ps. 139:6), but he gives us the understanding that we need as we acknowledge him and lean on him for wisdom (Prov. 3:5–6).
When I was younger, at the end of a long day I’d often ruminate over conversations or words I wished I’d said or not said. Many of us still do this as adults. God is not dissuaded by our shame-filled, circular thoughts. Our minds can get stuck on our failings and on lesser things. But when we turn our attention to him and meditate on his Word, he breaks these self-centered cycles (Ps. 119:37). God is undeterred by our anxieties; he sings a song to quiet our hearts (1 Pet. 5:7; Zeph. 3:17).
God is also not surprised or repelled by our egos. When we pontificate about big answers to complicated problems and pretend we know more than we do, he does not get swept up in the undercurrents of our pride and insecurity. He beckons us instead to build our lives upon him, the solid Rock of truth.
We can pray with the psalmist, “From the ends of the earth I call to you … lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps. 61:2). Once humbled by the heights of God’s perspective, we can finally make meaning of our memories and thought patterns.
Most of us sense, in our own lives and in the lives of those around us, that the pressures and changes of modern life have increased our anxiety. God promises a remedy for our worries, even if it requires patience and effort. Our most difficult memories and the memories that have most distorted us may take time to fade. And it takes intentionality to savor the details of our most joyful experiences.
In my own life, I see evidence of God healing my memories over many years, but my anxieties have not completely gone away. They still ring sometimes, like internal alarm bells. I’ve learned to hear that ringing as a sanctifying call, alerting me to remember the things that matter most. Though our anxieties may persist, through community and grace we can become more dependent on the Lord for resilience and peace.
Just as Adam and Eve were vulnerable when they ate the forbidden fruit, we are vulnerable to being taken in by counterfeit stories that manipulate our memories. The Serpent spoke doubt—“Did God really say…?”—then turned disobedience into condemnation (Gen. 3:1–7). He still uses the same tricks with us.
But God came to the rescue in the garden, drew Adam and Eve out of hiding, clarified the truth of their blame-shifting story with loving questions, and covered their nakedness with clothing. Our personal accounts of what has happened to us can’t always be trusted. But Jesus has crushed the head of the Serpent, the grand manipulator of our memories, setting us free from falsehood and covering our vulnerability.
God made us to remember, because we are made like him. He remembers us and understands both our potential and our limits (Ps. 103:14). Inversely and mercifully, God can lessen the intensity or frequency of our memories of trauma or regret. He can loosen the power they hold over us as he renews our minds (Rom. 12:2).
God’s healing is often a process, and it may last a lifetime. But flashbacks of fear will one day be replaced with visions of glory. And until we meet him face to face, we praise him through the fog of our fallible memories—from one forgetful generation to the next.
Sandra McCracken is a singer-songwriter and author in Nashville. She is also the host of The Slow Work podcast produced by CT.
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