WE all have memories, good or bad, that sometimes surface unexpectedly. The happy memories give us hope and courage to walk on. For example, the happy times during a holiday, the lovely meals with family and friends, the heart to heart conversations with a special person, the surprising gift for the birthdays, the completion of the work projects, etc.
As for me, when the pressures of life become overwhelming, I would often look at the photos saved on my phone, to remember those happy moments. Good memories provide us with a source of strength to move on.
Yet in life there are also bad times. For example, the passing of our loved ones, the disagreements with others, the stress at work or in school, the losing of precious things, the deterioration of our health, the broken relationship between trusted friends, etc. These unpleasant experiences would bring up unhappy memories, and in turn, unhappy memories would bring out a degree of sadness, guilt and shame.
When we allow ourselves to dwell on those unhappy memories, our hearts will gradually become hardened and bitter. Spiritual master Henri Nouwen reminds us that a miserable and hardened heart will blind us to our surroundings, causing us to easily make wrong decisions. In the end, shame becomes insecurity, guilt becomes self-defense and self-absorption.
A defensive person who only sees their own troubles will naturally become an unhappy person. In fact, what is scarier is that when we only focus on our own sorrow, we lose our sensitivity towards God’s love and His presence. We would even imagine that God has left us and no longer loves us.
Memories do come and go. It is indeed hard to control the resurfacing of memories. However, even if the bad memories surface, we can choose not to let them linger on in our minds. We need to cultivate our heart because a gentle and softened heart can be more perceptive of God’s presence and as a result, we can become a relatively happier person.
By Winnie Tie
Translated by Joy Tie