Looking Back at Painful Memories
I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. Acts 26:10
With my son home from college, we’ve taken advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to get outside, recently going back to explore one of his childhood haunts. Hidden Hollow, as we named it years ago, is a clearing in a grove of trees with a giant old wood pile in the middle. Concealed out in the middle of a field, no one else ever went there as far as we knew and so, when the kids were little, we’d go play, explore, and make believe.
We moved out of that neighborhood back in 2014, and we’d not been back since, so it brought back memories, both good and bad. The last time we were there was a few days before I went to treatment. I’d just lost my job due to my addiction. My marriage was a mess. Heading to treatment, I didn’t know when I’d see my kids again, so, we got out of the house and went to Hidden Hollow. As it happened, I hurt my knee while climbing on the wood pile and limped home, knowing that everyone would ask if I hurt it on purpose in an attempt to gain sympathy and pain pills. That wasn’t unfair. It was just who I was at the time. Painful memories.
I think the apostle Paul had his painful memories too. In today’s passage, he revisited his past while telling the story of his conversion to King Agrippa. Though he must have looked back with some sorrow, Paul’s went on to describe his transformation in Christ. Going back was a necessary part of telling what God had done for him.
It’s sometimes hard to know what to do with miserable memories. We can get caught up in the shame of the past, allowing ourselves to wallow in it. Or, we can use those memories to motivate us to change. If the guilt of my behavior isn’t confined to yesterday, then maybe I need to feel some discomfort and do what it takes to abandon it. If it is in the past, I can be sorry, while celebrating the transformation I’ve found in Christ.
As my son and I walked and talked the other day, I did look back with some sadness, but also with profound gratitude, celebrating where God has brought me now. Thank you God for recovery.