I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a bad memory or two, but some people seem to have too many to count. Those bad memories have contributed to dysfunctional patterns of thinking. These people have been hurt so severely, they have tunnel vision. They see most everything as a loss and not a gain. They focus on the problems and not the solutions.
When my father was just a small boy living in West Texas, he went to his one room school house. His education was intermittent, leaving him with gaps in his learning. When he failed to solve a math problem, the teacher ridiculed him and even shook him. He never forgot that experience or the feeling of his inadequacy, especially when it came to math. His formal education ended that year with his completion of the 5th grade. Later on, during World War II he was selected for officer’s training and, according to his captain, would have made a fine officer. However, when the training focused on math, my father walked out of the class and out of the program. There simply had been too many terrifying memories of a 5th grader who couldn’t do math.
That memory never left my father; neither did the wound. I have learned that the best thing any of us can do with bad memories is to invite Jesus into that memory. Jesus is not subject to time. He is eternal, and he can travel through time. He will stand with us in that moment when we first stood all alone. He stands with us in that moment when we were filled with disappointment and sadness. In that moment when we felt stupid, useless and inadequate, he comes to change those feelings of loss. These are wounds that never heal and memories that never go away on their own. The enemy uses them to taunt us all through our adult life. When we invite Jesus into the memory, he comes to correct the lies and defend us from the slander. He comes to set us free from those enslaving memories. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was writing about in his letter to the Corinthians:
2 Cor 10:4-5
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Maybe you’ve had some similar moment of failure in your life that has formed a bad memory. Perhaps you believe what the memory tells you every day—that you are “stupid,” “not worthy” or “not capable.” Invite Jesus into your failure today, and he will set you free of the guilt and shame. He will take that thought and make it obedient to his will.