My Recent Confusion on Forgetting... :)

I was listening to a testimony in church almost two weeks ago and one phrase from a speaker has been rolling around in my head off and on. I thought it was an interesting perspective on things that we don't like that have happened to us.

“Sometimes events happen because there are reasons for them... and so we should not forget them.”

In the most recent conference talk titled “Look Ahead and Believe” by Elder Edward Dube, he tells a story about a conversation with his mother when he was younger. He was pleased and proud of how much work he had accomplished with his mother that day and wanted her to stop working to look. Her response was “Edward, never look back. Look ahead at what we still have to do.” A beautiful talk to listen too and I liked the thoughts he expressed. When I was listening to this testimony, this story came back to me as an interesting juxtaposition to the phrase that had just been uttered... and yet the more I have thought about it I feel like the phrases, while appearing to be opposites actually compliment each other.

All of us have had experiences that we have struggled with and tried to come to terms with in our lives. The number of people with PSTD around the globe is expanding as just a small example of those who are dealing with extraordinary circumstances and trauma and the challenges that they face from it. If there is anyone on this earth would has lead a challenge and struggle free life... I would like to chat with them because I just I can't fathom that they actually exist. :) So when I have had challenges and confusion and struggled to move forward and deal with the trial at hand, much of the advice that people have given me (and I have been taught through lessons and experience over the years) has been to ponder, pray and recognize that these trials and sorrows are for our good and for personal growth. And so as you move ahead in life, you should always look forward to where you are going and not dwell on the past. From some lessons and from things people have told me, they seem to be able to forget these trials in their present and so it's almost as if they have never happened. I will admit that I do not think that at least right now I am built that way. I try to forget and I try to forget but the bigger the impact it had on me, the less successful I seem to be. So I find myself remembering really bad things and situations that caused pain and remorse... sometimes through my own actions and sometimes for reasons that I can't find a way to blame myself for- I'm pretty good at blaming myself actually.

So when I heard that phrase … to suggest that we should not forget, I was momentarily frozen while my brain tried to process what that really meant. It seemed so different from many things I've heard... Yet as he continued to keep speaking, I found that my brain was no longer there. It was dicing and processing and taking apart every bit of this phrase and the story by Elder Dube and the confusion the thoughts were created. Like a strong tangle to two wires, both true and unbreakable, but impossible to separate. And over time, I think I finally really got it. When I stopped trying to separate the tangles of wire and tried to understand I recognized that in different working both men said the same thing. Events that happen in our lives do happen for reasons- whether through consequences of our own free agency or even because of someone else... or even because we need the trial to teach us, to strengthen us, and to mold our spirit into a more malleable shape for the Lord to refine. And there are reasons that we should never forget them. These experiences have developed the individual that exists today. The biases, perspectives and thoughts of the person exist and have been shaped by these struggles and their existence- to pretend or forget why the person is the way they are is to forget who the individual is. But to stand backwards, looking back in pleasure at what all we have accomplished over time and not focus on what needs to happen in the future is also not correct. Because if we allow ourselves to become stuck in past pain and sorrow, we force ourselves into a very difficult trap. We can no longer try to grow and move forward and are simply stuck.... trapped in a vortex of pain and misery that will seem never ending and will be never ending unless we can find a way forward.

This is why the balance is needed. We need to remember, to understand ourselves and our past, to see how we have become who we are today. Yet we need to be able to let go of the pain and the blame -whether towards others or ourselves- to move forward towards the joy and exaltation that we seek. A challenging balancing act to be sure... For those of you reading, what techniques have you used in your life that have been successful in helping maintain this even path forward? What hasn't worked for you? If you feel stuck and trapped, what things might you be able to do to move forward and release yourself from the painful snare you are in?

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