“Take a picture, so you don’t forget!”
“Make sure you write it down.”
“Ooh, get a keepsake, so you’ll remember this time forever.”
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. I’ve gathered artifacts, pictures, or just pure facts about a “special” moment like a Smithsonian archivist. I was like a one-person American Picker collecting and documenting all the special moments in my life. The time I first gave a public speech, the first lock of hair that was cut from my oldest’s head, the first paycheck I earned . . . It was the most absurd things, because before long, I’d collected so many things or junk that nothing was special any longer, because I had boxes full of junk that held some mystique that I must protect and store for my own memory and even more insane – generational heritage.
At first, it seemed benign. I think mostly because I was young and there weren’t many events I’d experienced, but as my life continued, it became impossible to store and catalog all of the memories. During my adult life, I’ve moved more times than I care to count, and with each move, I felt God stripping the need for material things away from me. Not that I didn’t need my physical needs taken care of, but I didn’t need things to remind me of my past. I needed to be in the moment to experience all that God had given me in that moment. If I was so busy documenting, I didn’t remember the event, but the contrived memory of the event – the capstone, but not the process. Every move I would throw away more “irreplaceable keepsakes” that seemed to weigh me down and hold me in the past instead of accepting and looking forward to the life I needed to live.
After all, God doesn’t care what we have done, but what we are doing. He cares what we are working on, and how we are accepting or rejecting His truth in our lives. He doesn’t care how much you made at your first job (or 2nd, 3rd, 4th . . .). He cares how you took care of the people around you starting with your inner circle (spouse and children) then working out (siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.). You can define these people in your life as the ones that are also choosing to walk beside you in Christ. The ones that would lay down their life for you, not because you are special or unique, but because that is what family (through Christ) do for each other. We are to live as examples of truth and wisdom in Christ’s name so that the next generation is inspired to do the same. Yes, we’ll fall, but surround yourself with people that will pick you up, in spite of your failures.
Don’t get me wrong, souvenirs and pictures can be neat and fun, but they no longer hold the power over me. They are a fun moment to add to the experience, but they are not necessary to make the memory. Let me put it this way. If you don’t need to remember the event, no keepsake will ensure that you will. Vice versa, those immemorable moments that you’ve experienced with your family will never be taken from you regardless of the pictures taken or the keepsakes accumulated. The Christ in us makes each moment special, if we so choose. I still take pictures at special events, but they are not necessary. If I lost every picture and trinket I have ever owned, I’d still have the most important thing in my life, the people that love me and that I love.
Paul, that sacrificed much more than me, put it well in Philippians 3:8-9,13-14, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
All the things he had lost including prestige by his peers were mere dung (yes, poop or sh*t). It was worth it, though, because he was seeking Christ’s approval now. He was no longer doing what he thought was right, but obeying Christ’s commands. He didn’t worry the loss of things that used to hold importance in his life. He simply looked forward to the eternal reward ahead. What have you given up for Christ?
— Written by Kati