In April of 2012, I was able to accomplish a major goal by seeing my first book, Blurred Vision, get published. This morning I was pulling a copy of the book out of where my extra copies are stored, and I took a moment to glance through it. As I was doing that, and remembering how cool it was to get it published, I came to the dedication page at the beginning of the book.
“To my wife and best friend, Charissa”.
Just like April 2012 is an important date in my past, so are the dates July 2015, November 2015, and May 2016. But unlike the April 2012 date, which is a reminder of a very cool memory, the other dates are reminders of very difficult and painful memories. Those 3 dates mark significant events in my marriage coming to an end. My marriage to Charissa, whom I referred to back in 2012 as my “wife and best friend”.
So why don’t I contact my publisher and have that dedication removed from all future copies of my book? The divorce legally made it that she is no longer my wife, and it’s also true that she is no longer my best friend. That phrase which was written as a dedication back in 2012 is no longer a relevant phrase, so why don’t I just have it removed now?
Because for 12 years she was my wife, and for 15 years she was my best friend. In 2012, when I published that book, she was my wife and best friend. She isn’t anymore, which was a very hard truth and reality for me to accept as well as work through. But in 2012, it was true.
As I’ve been working through everything, one thing I’ve learned to do is to not forget my past, but rather to embrace and remember it as it was. The good as well as the bad. The fun and the painful. Everything that happened, all my good memories and my not so good memories. Because every one of those memories are part of me.
My past experiences are what make me who I am today. What I’ve been through and learned in the past builds my character and strengthens my faith. The things I’ve dealt with provide life lessons that I can learn from. Both good memories and bad memories. All of them can serve to be experiences that I learn from and that build my character and strengthen my faith. And all of them can be used in my life to help others who have similar experiences.
That’s why I’m not going to try to forget the difficult and painful memories from my past. I have definitely considered it, and I’ll admit that there are memories that I wish I didn’t have. Both mistakes I’ve made as well as painful things that were done to me. But I’ve come to realize that every memory, no matter how painful, can be used for good as I move forward if I allow it to.
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. I continually need God’s strength to not try to push away or forget certain memories. But that’s part of my faith being strengthened in all of this, because I’m learning to rely on God’s strength rather than my own. And what’s more, it’s also part of me gaining a deeper understanding of grace and mercy, and learning how to better show love and forgiveness and compassion to others…and those are things you can’t have too much of.
For 15 years Charissa was my best friend, and for 12 years she was my wife. She is also the mother of my 4 AMAZING children, who I’m so thankful for and would never trade for anything else in this world. And even though there are many painful memories that come from my relationship with her, there are also many good memories that I have as well. Yes, there are good memories I have that I’ve learned were not all that I had thought they were, but I’m not going to let that steal any joy I have. I will simply learn to accept the truth, and still do my best to hold onto the good that was there.
Life is made up of many different memories. Some good, some bad. And all of them make up who we are. It’s easy to want to block out or try to forget the bad and painful memories. But doing that will not benefit us as we continue on our journey through life. Our past is what makes us who we are now, and will help us become who we need to be in our future.
God can use all past experiences, good and bad. In moments when we want to forget parts of our past, may we remember that God can use it for good, and may we continue to trust him and where he is leading and guiding us on our journey through life.
Below is a song that has become kind of my theme song…it has been a huge help to me the past couple of years. May it be a help to you as well as you learn to not forget your past, but rather embrace it and learn from it as you trust God to lead you into your future.