I like to think I have a good memory, but -clearly- I occasionally have some issues with remembering. Most notoriously was one major memory gaffe in the early stages of my relationship with my husband. As long as I live, he will never let me forget the most regrettable memory blunder of all-time.
It was early enough in our relationship that my husband was still trying to put his best foot forward with my parents. During weekend visits, he’d rise early to make scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning to impress my mom. He left his Duke t-shirt at home so as not to agitate my dad. I like to think my senior memory moment was the final ice-breaker, the single event that united my husband and my parents in one moment of shock and awe as they turned to me in disbelief and horror.
A couple years earlier I had seen the movie Point Break with some girlfriends. (Those of you who have seen this movie are already laughing. Stop it. We’re not to the laughing part yet.) I remembered surfing and bank robbers who wore masks of the faces of past Presidents. I also remembered Keanu Reeves. That’s pretty much all I remembered. Except, I did remember that I liked the plot of the movie.
As we stood at the video store (Yes, boys and girls, we used to leave our houses and go to a store to rent the movies. They did not magically appear in our mailboxes. We had to walk uphill both ways to get to this video store and back home again.), as we stood at the rack of movies, my husband noticed this movie was rated R and asked if I was sure we’d want to watch this with my parents. Ignoring this flashing red warning signal, I remembered that my friend Jennifer, who is far more conservative and who had once turned off a period-piece movie because it showed too much cleavage (or at least that is my memory of the situation which, as you’ll soon learn, means absolutely nothing) — Jennifer loved Point Break. “So,” I reassured my husband, “I’m sure it’s fine. Just lots of action and bank robbing and surfing.”
Once home, we popped some popcorn and settled in to watch this movie with my parents. Mere minutes into the movie, like in the opening scene, somebody busts (pun intended) into a room filled with topless girls. Naked breasts are everywhere, foul language fills the room – from the movie, not from my husband who was ready to kill me. Actually, I don’t know that there were many topless girls in the scene. I only know that we saw naked boobies and we heard bad words. While watching a movie. With my parents. And my husband wanted to die.
We quickly turned the movie off. We probably watched Hee Haw instead. And I learned that night that my memory cannot be trusted. I needed some ginkgo biloba in a serious way. I also was not allowed to choose the movies for nearly fifteen years. Only recently, when I absconded control of the Netflix queue, was this judgment reversed.
So I tell you all that to say that sometimes we only remember the things we liked about a situation (or movie) and not the embarrassing or uncomfortable or rated R parts.
I’ve been studying the life of Moses this year, and I have seen that the Israelites had the same memory problems I have. Shortly after entering the desert, they began to complain about their circumstances and fondly reminisce about Egypt. Clearly, they forgot the glaring breasts-flashing-on-screen equivalent bit of information that they had been slaves in Egypt. So while, yes, they had had cucumbers to eat in Egypt, they were so thoroughly exhausted from making bricks all day and meeting unrealistic quotas and having to watch all their firstborn sons be put to death that they couldn’t really enjoy the cucumbers.
In the heat and discomfort of the wilderness, those Israelites only remembered the good stuff from Egypt, forgetting all the bad stuff. Like me in my Point Break moment, they were in serious need of ginkgo biloba.
Do you ever do that? Look back on the past or to the place you used to be and wish you were there again? Forgetting all about the parts that really weren’t that great?
I do. As I’ve studied the life of Moses, I’ve realized that I am far too much like those Israelites in the desert. I need some spiritual ginkgo biloba to jog my memory. I’m learning that I can’t trust myself to remember correctly or think correctly because my heart is deceptively wicked. But I can trust God. And if He has me right here, right now, I don’t need to look longingly back to the Egypt I remember.
Anyone want to watch a movie? I remember a good one.