When we first began the adoption process, my hubs and I had individual meetings with our social workers as part of our home study. In those meetings, they asked very specific questions about our lives. One question they asked that took me off guard was, “What is your first memory?”
I don’t do well under pressure and on the spot, so I told them I’d have to think about it for a few minutes and come back to that question. I couldn’t understand why in the world that was important as part of our home study, but then they went on to explain that in the majority of people, our first memory is linked to some kind of trauma. A traumatic experience burns itself into our mind and becomes the first memory we can recall.
My husband remembers a time when he was 3, and sure enough, it is linked to a big change in his little life. I finally came up with my first memory. I was 4, and it was the night my brother was born. My sister and I had to stay with an older couple in our church while my parents were at the hospital. That night, a tornado came through. I was terrified that my mom and dad were going to die in a tornado…and was almost equally terrified of this couple’s dark, musty basement where we had to wait out the storm. It was a traumatic night indeed.
I had never considered that most of us have unpleasant first memories, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Those scary or life-altering moments tend to stick out all throughout our lives. A lot of memories fade over time, but some of them remain as vivid as the day they happened.
Trauma is not easily or quickly forgotten.
I was writing to a friend the other day about our precious little baby, and I initially wrote, “It’s hard to remember what life was like before he came along.” After I wrote that sentence, I immediately shook my head and erased it…because it just isn’t true.
Things are completely different now, and in some ways, it does feel like it’s been this way forever…but it hasn’t. Before Mac was placed in my arms just moments after he was born, there were years and years and years of memories that led me to that point, and they are forever burned into my mind. Days, weeks, months, years of God allowing the circumstances of my life to break me, crush me, and grind me up so that He could remake me into a person content with and who desired Himself above all things…yeah, that wasn’t fun and isn’t quickly forgotten.
Pain sometimes lingers long after the skin looks healed. Those memories of tears, inexplicable hurt and heartache don’t just disappear. They aren’t going anywhere because they are a big part of me. God used those moments of pain to change my thinking and change my heart.
But the story doesn’t end there.
The old memories remain because they must…but new memories are being made every day.
I have an almost two month old little stinker who I love more than I ever imagined I could, and the only reason he is in my arms is because God put him there. New memories with him are slowly causing the old ones to blend into the background a bit. I no longer cry myself to sleep over the massive hole I felt in my heart. It has since been filled by Christ, and He has filled my arms with a son. I’m now making new memories of the first time he smiled at me, the first time he instantly calmed down when he heard my voice, his first night feeding and snuggles, his first church service, and so many more.
God redeemed my pain when He made me content with Himself, and He is continuing to redeem my mind with all the new things we’re experiencing in these days. He isn’t necessarily replacing my traumatic memories, but He is pouring good, sweet, and precious moments on top of them.
Some memories will remain no matter how much time passes, but what redemption can be found in Jesus Christ!
“Though I’ve had my share of hard times, I wouldn’t trade one if I could, because through it all – God’s been good.”
Keep trusting Him, friends. He knows what He is doing, and the bad memories make the good ones even better as God is once again making every bitter thing sweet. ❤️