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Remembering the Past Accurately

Remembering the Past Accurately

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. Exodus 13:6

Among those of us who’ve found recovery from addiction, there’s a well-known phenomenon in which we romanticize the past. This is a sick nostalgia that’s been twisted by the drug’s influence on our brain. We once used for a reason – the drug did something for us. We quit for a reason too though – that same drug destroyed our lives. With euphoric recall, we perversely remember only the good times, forgetting the misery of addiction.

After my second major relapse and subsequent despair, I was furious at myself for forgetting the pain of my previous experience. I remember wanting to bottle up that pain so I could just take it out and sprinkle a little of it on every day for the rest of my life so that I’d never go back. As it turns out, that is a choice that I can and must make if I desire to remain in recovery.

When we forget the pain of addiction, we lose sight of how grateful we are for recovery. When recovery loses its importance and we begin to long for the good old days, we’re in trouble, headed for a relapse. We don’t need to wallow in the mistakes of the past, but it’s important for us to accurately assess our history, with all its madness. It’s important to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come, remembering how grateful we are for recovery. If we don’t want to go back, we must regularly remind ourselves why.

Remembrance – This seems to be the theme of today’s passage, in which God commanded his people to take a week every year to reflect on their deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Annually, they were to purposefully look back, remembering what God had done in their lives. To do this was to remember painful times, but it was also to celebrate how God brought them out of those painful times.

We do something similar. Today is Good Friday, a day observed by Christians as the day of Christ’s crucifixion. Why would we commemorate such a horrible event? We do so to remember what Christ has done for us – He’s saved us from ourselves. We should be able to look back with gratitude for where we are now. Too many of us though, are either still living in our addiction, or we’re looking back fondly at it. If we desire to find recovery and remain in it, we must daily do whatever it takes to abandon ourselves to follow God’s will. We must daily remind ourselves of the misery of addiction, and once we find recovery, we must daily thank God for the new life. We don’t need to wallow in the past, but neither can we afford to romanticize it. Regularly, we must remember the pain, thanking God for what he’s done for us.

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