The Beauty and Pain of Forgetfulness


To be human is to be forgetful. We forget more than we remember. Think about it. In the last year every one of us lived 8,760 hours. How many do we remember? Each day we speak thousands of words. How many do we remember? Over the course of our lifetime we watch thousands of television shows, listen to thousands of podcasts, speeches, and participate in countless conversations. How many do we remember?

In some ways forgetfulness is painful. As we age we forget where we put our keys, what we had for breakfast and eventually events and people of greater significance. We forget birthdays, names, the sound of loved ones voices after they walk the earth no more. We also forget the beautiful things we are privileged to experience. We forget blessing. We forget the gifts we are given. This forgetfulness is part of our brokenness and weakness. It disempowers and shames us. We wish that it weren’t so but it is.

And yet in other ways forgetfulness is a gift. We forget many of the wrongs done to us, allowing once acute pain to dissipate into distant memory. We also forget how ugly we were to others, the harshness of our words, the intensity of our hatred and so we are able to move on. Forgetfulness allows us to be forgiven and to forgive. This is a divine quality for he who made us chooses to remember our sin no more. Perhaps we do not possess the same power of volitional forgetfulness, but it empowers love for others all the same. Forgetfulness is gift.

This human quality of fading memory is blessing and curse. Like an anchor our memory steadies us when we need hope in the midst of raging swells our lives inevitably bring. And like an anchor pulled onto the deck in calmer waters our forgetfulness allows us to shove off and continue course towards new destinations.

Let us lament the curse and mourn our low estate. Let us celebrate the blessing and revel in the glory that our past does not always dictate our present. And let us keep moving towards the distant shore where memory will lead to thankfulness and the shadows of glory we once saw in part give way to the fullness of glory without end.

**(Painting: Sea of Forgetfulness by Missy Borden. Located at

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