Summary: God wants us to have tender memories, He knows we will have tough memories, and wants to help us build trust memories.
On this Memorial Day weekend, it’s appropriate that we’re talking about how to make memories.
I have a memory of something that happened when we lived in Mexico. Beth was gone so the girls and I decided to have pizza. I called Domino’s and tried to place my order in Spanish. Emily and Lydia listened and tried to encourage me as I stumbled through the phone call (I think they were holding their breath, wondering what was going to come out of my mouth).
I told the pizza guy that we wanted sausage on our pizza, but instead of saying “sausage” I said “hot dogs”. The girls tried to correct me while I was on the phone but I didn’t listen to them. When our pizza finally arrived, we just laughed when we saw it covered with greasy hot dogs! The pizza place probably had to run out to the store to find some hot dogs since I’m sure it wasn’t a very popular request. We had to throw the pizza away because it was so gross. We laugh about it…now.
This is what I call a tender memory. We love telling the story and remembering the details. I have many tender memories about growing up. Like the time I put my sister’s cat in the dryer (though I’m sure that wasn’t a tender memory for her!). Or the times we’d walk across our back yard in the summer to buy a gallon of root beer from the A&W. I also have fond memories of the time I spent with my grandpa before he died.
Parents, what are you doing to build some tender memories into the life of your family? Sometimes these good memories just happen but most of the time they need to be purposely planned.
I suspect that some of you have memories that are anything but tender. Many of your memories are tough ones. Some of you remember a parent who never took the time to listen to you, to play with you, or to just be with you.
God wants us to know that we don’t have to be paralyzed by our tough memories. He can help us move on from them, and even lead us to healing -- if we’ll ask him to. Psalm 102:17 says: “God will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” God can be the healer of your damaged memories. Don’t let what happened in the past control your present. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Philippians 3:13: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Sometimes we can’t prevent tough memories because life is often very difficult. Maybe your family has been rocked by illness, by the loss of a job, or by some other significant stressors. And sometimes, what is tough for one family member might be more tender for another. While Beth loved Mexico and flourished with her Spanish, I went through one of the toughest times in my life.
Our family will never forget an experience that could have made for a very tough memory. One day, while we were driving back from a border trip to Texas to renew our visas, we were stopped by a group of soldiers who were inspecting cars for drugs and guns. When I pulled over, a young soldier with a machine gun started asking me some questions. This was a stressful situation but I thought I was on top of it. He kept asking me the same question and when I finally figured it out, I turned to him and said, “No.”
He walked closer to the car, pulled the machine gun off his shoulder, and asked me the question again. I smiled and said, “No.” Beth then leaned over, and with a frightened look on her face, said, “Brian, don’t say no. He’s telling you to get out of the car and open the back so he can inspect it for drugs and guns!” I thought he was asking me if we had any drugs or guns in the car! We came very close to being one of the “war dead” who are remembered this weekend!
Parents, what kind of memories are you creating for your children? Are you leaving a legacy of tender memories or tough ones? You see, every day we’re making memories for our children. The stakes are high. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect because none of us are. But, we need to do all we can to give our children more tender memories than tough ones.
If you feel like you’ve already blown it in this area, don’t give up. God has given children an amazing degree of forgiveness. Don’t kick yourself for the past. Instead, determine now to make each day count. Don’t unintentionally let negative memories form just because you’re too busy to take time for your kids. As we purposely plan for some tender times with our children, they will grow up treasuring those moments.