Remembering Is a Gift

Remembering truly is a gift, especially when we take the time to reflect and anchor our remembrances for the sake of those we hope to serve.

One of my professors says that “Knowing where you come from is crucial to serve street-involved kids [or whomever we are called to serve]. It is the only way we can speak with authority. It begins to reveal where many of our values and beliefs were shaped by our own history.”

So True.

When I remember my life, I tend to chunk it into phases, each rich with its own joys, sorrow and challenges. And since our histories are constantly in motion, we are always adding new revelations that “impact our helping”.

The trauma of yesterday informs my actions of today, and the experiences of today affect all of my tomorrows.

I came into adulthood with a conscious resolve to construct my life as a reaction to, and as a protection from, what I had experienced in my family of origin. At the time I would have insisted I knew full well where I had come from and was using that knowledge to shape my decisions. In reality, I had little understanding of the effects of trauma of my youth. I spent my 20’s and 30’s trying to create what was missing in my own childhood – stability, health, discipline, responsibility.

In order to create the perfect life, I had to find the truth, the one way, so I rested on black and white thinking, where raising a family and pastoring churches were formulaic and sanitized. My cause-and-effect thinking meant if I made the right choices, I would get the right result.

As so much of it was good, until it wasn’t.

Only in retrospect can I see the rigidness I had created in the name of God that gave little room for the messiness of life, and lacked a freedom to explore and be authentic. I held a very tight definition of what success looked like as a parent, a woman and a Christian.

My journey and stages have taken me from trauma…to dogma…to wandering. Now, I am in discovery.

I am looking to make sense of my wandering and to create a theology and praxis that draws on my best self and utilizes what Sarah Miles characterizes as “elements of action” that does not separate the sacred and the secular. As I reflect and remember where I came from, I discover…

Perspective & Peace: It’s in the areas of perspective and peace that age is a benefit. During the good and bad, the sorrow and joys, and the struggles and shame, it is often so difficult to see. But as I look back I gain a new perspective about how each stage has given me what I need to move forward. The lessons were timely and orchestrated by a force bigger than myself. This brings a tremendous amount of peace when my current situations are not ideal, or even when they are. The seasons are what they need to be.

Delight & Anticipation: Truly I find delight and wonder in how things have unfolded, in ways big and small. Things I could never have imagined as a young woman. This delight stirs anticipation for what my future holds; the surprises and turns, and the high and lows that will surely come.

Hope & Resolve: Hope springs from surviving and thriving during the hardships, heartaches, triumphs and tragedies of the first 50ish years of my life. This hope gives me the proper insight to resolve to take the next steps because I know they will surprise me in the way that are designed for my good.

“We know who we are by unwrapping the past, and we have faith in an unseen but certain future.” – Dr Ron Ruthruff

Miles, Sara. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. Ballantine Books, 2008.