I was reading an old article about “Good Riddance Day” in Times Square at the end of 2013. Visitors to the famous tour spot stood in line to write down and shred their bad memories of the past year.
Gimmicky, for sure, but I’m guessing the event is based on something many of us face: we tend to hold on to bad memories that only serve to tear us down and limit the joy God wishes us to experience. Maybe it is a grudge against someone who maligned you, or perhaps an inadvertently spoken word you interpreted as negative. Maybe it was a loss of job, money, possessions, or friendship. Maybe it was an unusually bitter summer, a flood, or other natural event that wore you down. And you keep remembering it! Face it, bad memories are for real and we have to decide what to do with them: learn from them and move on, or dwell on them and imprison ourselves in their grasp.
Actually, a small group of friends discussed a number of years ago how holding on to negative memories weighs on us and drags us down. We were invited to reflect on something that irritates us about someone we love, someone for whom we care deeply. Maybe that irritating act had become the focus of countless discussions or arguments. But in the end, we had to admit that it really wasn’t all that important. IF we were willing to give that up in a forgiving attitude, we were asked to write that down on a scrap of paper, pray for strength and wisdom to give it up FOREVER, and then drop it into the burning fireplace, never to bring it up again. The fire represented the destruction of the consuming force the memory had on us and the refining fire that would make us whole again.
I wonder if you have bad memories that you need to shred or let go into such a refining fire. Better to be better than bitter. Learn from the past and let go that which imprisons you.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1