by Amanda Tobey
“Remember that one time at band camp?” The word today, ‘Remember’, means something a little different to everyone. For some, they think back to when they were children; they remember life being simpler, regardless of the fact that if you ask a child how their day was, you get a talking to about how difficult falling asleep during nap time is or how Billy wouldn’t share his toys. Others have a person they think of remembering, that person that changed their life, but can’t be around anymore.
I looked at this word originally, and didn’t know what I should remember. There are many a Sunday school answers I could have thrown out, be it “God, Jesus, or Love,” but none of those sounded quite right for me. Both of these different ways to remember spoke more. Ironically, I do look back on when these Sunday school answers were enough for my faith and for some it still is. Faith is a child, sometimes it grows by leaps and bounds though other times it almost seems to plateau. When I was a child, faith seemed black and white. I had trouble understanding why there were different branches of Christianity besides some having better music than others. When asked what I believed in, it was pretty simple, “I believe in Jesus and God and God loves me for being me.” That was that. But life can never stay quite that simple.
Eventually, I stopped coloring on paper during sermons and started listening. While listening, I realized there was much I didn’t know in the Bible and, just maybe, somethings I didn’t agree with. I would ask questions, and question that would pop into my head, and rarely was I satisfied with the answers. Slowly I started realizing why I thought differently than some of the people around me. Not that they were wrong, but that we understood things differently. The context in which we read was different depending on our life experiences. Remember all the ways that the word ‘remember’ could mean something different for you than for me?
Remembering is difficult though. I find it’s almost harder to remember the good times when the bad times seem to hurt so much more. There’s a quote from a British TV show that addresses this though. The two main characters went back in time and met Vincent van Gogh. A quick history lesson on van Gogh is he was a major Post-impressionist painter in the late 1800s who had mental health problems that greatly influenced his paintings. Many art critics today say that his art illustrates an artist frustrated by the side effects caused by bouts of mental illness. He died at age 37 from an infection in a gunshot wound. It is still debated whether it was self-inflicted or not. The main characters in this show hoped to change the outcome, but sadly, nothing changed despite their best efforts. In despair, one main character, named Amy, stated how, “[they] didn’t make a difference at all.” The Doctor disagreed, “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” An easy biblical example is Jesus’ Crucifixion. All of the miracles that Jesus preforms doesn’t make it any less devastating, but his death doesn’t make the miracles any less miraculous. When someone dies, we tend to focus on the pain around the death of the person, and for a while, that’s all we remember. But, there is a day that we chat with someone, and we remember all of the good things that happened. We remember all the times that we laughed and joked and loved, and the good things can be remembered again.
We all remember differently. There will always be the good and the bad, the regrets and the risks, and the love and the pain. But without one, we would never realize the significance of the other. Without opposites in the world, we would have no reason to grow in our faith, no reason to question our beliefs and grow.