I want to share two experiences with you that I had growing up. The first is when I had taken a trip to New Mexico to help a village of Navajo-Americans construct facilities for housing and for meeting together. I was about thirteen at the time. Those days, all I knew to think of was myself. When I got to the reservation, however, my worldview quickly expanded. There I saw small shacks made of tin sheets and scrap wood. These shacks couldn’t have been more than 8 feet in diameter. I had asked one of the locals how many people lived in the shack. He said, with a shack of that size, it likely had a family of six or more. As we continued through our morbid tour of the neighborhood, it quickly became clear to me that I had entered into a world that I did not understand. Remember, this wasn’t in a third-world country. This was in our own backyard. It shook me to the core to see how the things that I worried about at the time paled in comparison to what I had just witnessed. I left that experience saying, “I will never forget this moment.”
My second experience was when I held my oldest daughter for the first time. I tell the dads that I work with that we tend to fall into two camps. There are those that fine and calm until the baby comes, then we freak out. The second group of dads is the ones freaking out until the baby comes, and then everything just seems to “click.” I was closer to the latter. I couldn’t believe how tiny she was. I was so concerned that I was going to break her. But, when my wife passed her over to me, I got this feeling that my arms were meant for her. Right then, I told her, “I love you,” and I knew that I meant it. I told myself, “I will never forget this moment.”
Obviously, I haven’t really forgotten these moments, but they rarely cross my mind. Days go by and what we thought would stick with us fades into memory. If we don’t take the time to reflect on moments like this, then they tend to lose the impact that they once had on us. In the busy world that we live in now, it’s easy to get caught up in the here-and-now. And so, my little encouragement for you this week is to reflect back on times like these this week. Try to remember the times that were so important to you before. Are they still important to you now?
When I was a therapist at the residential center, my clients would often experience powerful times in their lives. Some of them were lessons learned the hard way. Other times were long-awaited joys that my clients had desperately hoped for. Whenever they experienced an “I will never forget this moment” event, whether positive or negative, I encouraged them to find a rock.
You see, there is this story in the Bible where God parts a river so that his people can pass through it on dry ground. By that time, God had done many incredible things for the people. The leader of the people at this time, Joshua, wished to remember the many things that had been done for them. So, he sent out twelve men from the twelve tribes represented to grab stones from the river that they had crossed and make a memorial along the side of the river. Whenever someone would pass by it, they would ask, “What are these stones here for?” they would be told of the great things that God had done for the people.
When we don’t take the time to make some kind of memorial, then time may rob us of the truth that we once treasured. When something monumental happens in our life, it helps to have something tangible to remind us of the “never forget” moments. When we find ourselves in one of these situations, we need to set establish a rock. It doesn’t have to be a literal rock. Sometimes it can be an insert in our journal, a letter we hang on our wall, or a ring we wear on our person. Just make it something that will help you remember that time. Put that “rock” somewhere where you will see it often. What is most important is that our rock does not get tucked away in a closet or thrown in a drawer. The more we interact with our rock, the greater the significance it will have on our life, and the more impact the memory will have on us. If we can hold onto those memories, then they will continue to influence our thoughts and actions. This is how we can hold onto those “I will never forget this moment” times.