Why Did I Come in Here?

When I am riding my bike or alone in my car driving somewhere, I always start out with prayer. And it is when I am praying, and my mind wanders off on a topic, I find my inspiration for many of the messages I post on this ministry. When an idea hits me, I try to quickly make a calendar entry so I don’t forget what I wanted to talk about.

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I went to see what was on the calendar for today and all I saw was “Yes, go ahead and save that.”, which was what I told my Google assistant to do after I had asked “her” to make a calendar entry to remind me what I wanted to talk about today.

And, of course, I don’t recall what the heck it was, and thought this problem might be more of an age-related issue than one of misusing technology.

Now that I think about it, though, there is a spiritual message in here, and that spiritual element is the danger of forgetfulness; not of why you came in the room, or what you wanted to talk about, or the names of people you have known for a long time.

What we need to be careful about never forgetting is God and the way he wants us to live our life.

An example of this is Shlomo, otherwise known as Solomon. Despite his extraordinary wisdom, later in his life, he forgot about God and the promises he made to God and started to worship other, false gods (1 Kings 11:4).

You may ask how someone who had always been so worshipful and dedicated to God, with so much sekel (Hebrew for understanding or insight), could have done that, and the answer is that he was influenced by his wives (he had about 700), many of whom were from the people that God said we shouldn’t have any dealings or relationships with because they would (as in Shlomo’s case) turn us away from our God.

So what does a failing memory have to do with apostasy? Everything.

Even though Shlomo’s problem wasn’t so much memory loss, as what we old folks experience, the memory loss we can all fall victim to is losing the memory of what is right and wrong.  As we get older, and I can verify this from experience, your priorities change, and it becomes more difficult to exercise the self-discipline you used to have. The discipline to go places when you are tired, the discipline to keep in touch with people, the discipline to read when you can more easily watch TV.  Even personal hygiene becomes a burden, especially if you live alone, for many older people. All of these disciplines, which we take for granted when we are young, become difficult when we get older.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not ready for the Old Folks Home, not by a long shot, but I can see patterns forming, and I can see how I used to be and how I am now.

I used to send cards to everyone for their birthdays and holidays, but for years now I don’t bother. It isn’t so much the cost of greeting cards (which is, by the way, ridiculously high) but I simply don’t feel like doing it, anymore. No offense to my friends and family, I still love you all but it is just too much effort for too little reward.  And I also feel that way about finding a place to worship. I went to a Hebraic Roots church for a few years after moving here, but after they had to close their doors (the Senior Pastor had a full-time job and was starting a Master’s program so he didn’t have time to be a full-time Pastor, and there was no one else to run it) I just didn’t feel like looking around for someplace else. And I still don’t want to, even though there are so many houses of worship here that on a windy day you can spit in any direction and hit a church.

You don’t have to be old to forget about God; you can be any age and lose focus or forget about proper worship and lifestyle. It can happen as you get more involved with your job, or with family problems, or even with outside activities. When we have many worldly things on our mind we tend to become forgetful about spiritual things that take effort, such as reading the Bible every day.

If you are a Believer and have many friends (like I do) who are not Believers, you expose yourself to forgetting about God, just as Shlomo did when he married foreign wives with foreign gods. Their influence can become a trap for you, tying you to worldly things instead of to God.

On the other hand, we are to be a light to the nations and we can’t shine if we never interact with non-Believers. In fact, we should be out there among the non-Believers as a symbol and example of how God’s grace and Holy Spirit gives us peace and the ability to remain calm in the midst of troubles. That’s why I am concerned for myself, because as I get older and things become more difficult, it may be easier for me to not “fight” with those who don’t worship God, and simply let them alone or, worse, give in to them just because I don’t have the strength to argue.

Don’t worry- I doubt that will happen to me, but being aware of the fact it might is what keeps me properly focused.

I may not remember why I came into the room this morning, or even what I wanted to say when I started to write this, but I do remember that God has instructions for me to follow and because I forget things more easily now, I must remember one thing if nothing else, and that is to fear the Lord, God. If I can remember that one thing, nothing else will be that important.

That’s the reason I keep my Bible in the bathroom- I know no matter how forgetful I become, I will always remember where the bathroom is. And, when I get there, I see the Bible; since I will have a few minutes while I am there, I might as well read a chapter or two.

That’s one way I remember to stay in touch with God, and (frankly) I don’t worry too much about what else I have to remember, except, maybe, to take my pills in the morning.

Thank you for remembering to be here today, and please don’t forget to subscribe so if you forget to look for a message on my website, you will be notified by email that I have posted. You can also “like” my Facebook page and that way you will know when I post.

I always welcome your comments and I try to remember to reply.

Until next time (assuming I don’t forget to write), L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Live through the down times and remember the up times

Have you heard the term “Selective Memory” used when referring to someone who only seems to be able to recall those events that he or she wants to recall? Usually, it is used derisively to indicate the person is using it as an excuse for not doing something.

Usually, that is the case.

However, I know people who choose to remember only those things that continue to generate frustration and anger, and by doing so don’t even allow themselves to relive the pleasant times in their life.

For instance, in my previous life, from 1984 to 1992 I was married to a woman, we had two children (whom she has successfully turned against me) and for the last 6 or 7 years of our marriage all we did was argue. Yet, I recall many enjoyable moments, before and during the bad times; I know what was bad in that marriage, yet I choose to remember the good times and allow the bad times to remain in the background. This form of selective memory, recalling the pleasant times we had together, allows me to experience joy when I recall them. She, on the other hand, not only had chosen to recall all the bad times, but greatly embellished some of them over the years so that all she felt was pain and anger regarding me. So much so that even a normal, civil conversation was not possible for her. Once my son was old enough to take a train from their house in Queens (NY) and meet me in Manhattan (my daughter had already cut me off), I was able to disconnect from my “ex”, totally. That was a number of years ago, yet I still pray for her because I don’t know anyone who needs the love of the Lord as much as that poor, pitiful and unforgiving woman who causes herself continual pain by her selective memory.

The reason I told you about this is not to complain about her, or appear to put myself in a position of “holier-than-her”, but only as a personal example of how much better it is to selectively remember only the best parts of a relationship. And let me confess this now: I have not done this well. It took me many, many years (as my wife will confirm) just to be able to not talk about it all the time, and even today I am still fighting to not dwell on the loss of my children. I have prayer and God to help, and I am relieved to say I am getting better at not dwelling on it.

If you have had someone hurt you, and have forgiven them (as we are commanded to do), you should be able to remember the good aspects of that relationship without having to refuel the fires of hurtfulness that the sin against you caused. And, if you haven’t forgiven them, it’s about time you got with the program!

Forgiving is not forgetting, as much as it is letting go of the pain and anger. Because I have forgiven I can remember many fun times with my “ex”; our honeymoon was absolutely wonderful, we had some road trips that were great, the times we spent in the Pocono’s at a timeshare were relaxing and so much fun. I also remember there was that one vacation straight from hell, and many times during the marriage I wanted to leave. There were even times I wanted to commit suicide instead of going home. Really- it was that bad. But I now choose to leave those memories alone, and try to recall only the happy times because, well… why dwell on bad times and relive the hurt when you can remember happy times and feel good?

BTW: if you choose to relive the hurt someone caused you, it is not their fault that you are in pain. Yes, they may have struck the “first blow”, but if you choose to relive that event, over and over, now the pain you feel when reliving it is your own fault.

Of course, if someone is unforgiving, for them to relive only the happy times is probably not going to be possible. No one who is unforgiving will want to let go of their pain and sorrow, so they rip the scab off the cut every time it starts to heal. If you ask me, that’s a horrible way to live. It is so much better to remember happy times- don’t you agree?

Look- we all have bad times, and we all will remember them, but the idea is to live through the bad times and then put them behind you so you can recall only the happy times and let them fill you with joy. When loved ones pass away, we should celebrate their lives and recall all the joy they brought us; when we have marriage problems we cannot solve, we should part as people recalling that once we were able to share a love and to allow that to be the start of a new relationship. Once divorced, the marriage is dead, so we are free to begin a new relationship based on what first brought us together. And if the relationship is so damaged that it cannot continue, for whatever reason, then individually relive the happy times and remember only that what you had was a blessing while it was good. All things change, but all people do not change together.

Selective memory should not be used as an excuse for irresponsibility, but should be a means of recalling the joy we found in relationships that are no longer able to be that way. If you can recall only the happy times, you will be a happier person.