Just the other day I had an intentionally quiet morning. Everyone was at school or work, and I was standing in front of my photo wall sipping my coffee and soaking in all the faces. Each captured memory means something significant to me. As my eyes landed on each picture, I let my mind go back to that particular season of life, that very moment framed on the wall. It was sweet; I thanked the Lord for this beautiful life He’s given me. I texted Josh to say how grateful I am to walk through life’s ups and downs with him by my side.
I just finished a book by John Eldridge—get your life back. He wrote a chapter on Memory and the gift it is to us. I loved every word of it! It helped articulate the frustration I have with the well-meaning older ladies that would tell me not to blink when they saw me with my three toddlers or the old lady in the grocery store that told me before I knew it they would be out of the house. I didn’t like the pressure I felt with their statements. But now I am the older lady wanting to tell the young mom to soak it in because it goes by so fast. I usually withhold my words and let them grocery shop without the guilt of my words meeting their thoughts of wishing they were alone in those aisles or my words leaving that young mom with frustration in her heart over the dilemma of how exactly to not blink.
Here’s how Eldridge put it—
“But there’s something more, something touchingly merciful about memory. It has to do with the common occurrence of loss so near to us, so constant, that we’ve grown completely numb to it—or numbed by it: our inability to make time stand still, even for a moment. No sooner have we stepped into some wonderful life experience—a birthday, a wedding, that Christmas morning when you were six years old and the pond had frozen and you got your first pair of skates—but in the next breath it is completely swept away in the unceasing river of time, swept far downstream and out of reach.
Every precious moment will suddenly be last week, last month, last year before you can blink.”
It’s true. I cannot make time stand still. But I can snap a photo, and I can frame that photo and hammer (yet another) hole in my wall and hang that framed memory up. I can slow down my days and remember good times that God has given our family, remember God’s faithfulness time and time again. The glance backward gives me the hope that other good times will come or will challenge me to not miss the moments God has me in right now, for they will soon be over. And God is with me in all of it. Some may see my photo wall(s) and think it’s a bit overboard, excessive, unnecessary, cluttered even. And I can admit it is a lot to take in, but I wouldn’t dare want to not have these photos hanging in my home!
Eldridge also brilliantly says that the intentional use of memory is a cure for our “what have you done for me lately” attitude towards God. So true and so convicting.
The gazillion photos on my walls.
The huge vases of sea shells from past vacations in my room.
The paintings of the church and building we held our wedding reception in.
The framed city and state locations we have lived.
Maybe my photo wall is more than just a rebellion from growing up in homes that were usually for sale and therefore needed to have blank walls. Instead, these photos are to me “Ebenezers.” In the Bible, Samuel named a place of victory, Ebenezer and said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (I Samuel 7:12). I dare say we need more reminders of God’s faithfulness and sweet goodness in our lives. The world we live in is rough and dark and can leave us weary—sometimes even to the point of wondering where God is and if He actually cares for us. We need to make time to remember and turn those times into praise so that hope will have a steady home in our hearts.
Snap the photo. Print it out. Frame it and hang it for all to see.
Open the gift of memories. 💗