Meaningful Memories

The past few weeks this idea of making memories has been a heavy thing on my heart. It’s an idea I’ve never really thought much about before, but I think it is not only important, but vital to our lives. This past year has been crazy, crazy for my own life, crazy in the life of the world all around us; there has just been a feeling of uncertainty that seems to have clouded the year. For me, the future is always a big mystery, one that I can get so caught up in. So, when the moments of chaos happen, I tend to immediately look ahead, I start to plan on my own strength. I think this is true for all of us, each of us wants to have control over our life and what happens in it. No matter how much planning and stressing over what may or may not happen, we ultimately have no control over what happens tomorrow. This may sound bleak, but this is just the opposite of what God tells us. God doesn’t want us to stress over tomorrow because he will take care of tomorrow and the next day, we should live for what today will bring. James 4:14-15 says, “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” This verse really captured this feeling I have been having about making memories, living for the moments that today will bring you, because we are not promised tomorrow.

I was watching an interview from the band that was playing at the Bataclan, during the Paris attacks recently. The “Eagles of Death Metal,” gave an interview to Vice about what happened during the attacks, what they experienced and how terrifying it was. It is a great interview. (Note: there is explicit language used, not gratuitously, but it is evoking their feelings. Viewer discretion advised.) The main theme that kept coming up was how scary it was and how they were not sure if they would make it through the rest of the night. I reference this because it is a sentiment that we all share, we are not promised tomorrow, but that does not mean that we should live in fear. In thinking and praying about what it means to live in Christ day by day, and how we can take hold of every opportunity and moment we are presented with, I have three simple sentiments that I think God wants us to make memories in our lives.

Life is short, don’t miss out.

This may seem like a cheesy statement, but it is one to be taken seriously. We are not going to live forever, sorry to crush your dreams if you thought otherwise, but we are so fragile. So what is holding us back from making the most of everyday? Each day we are given multiple opportunities, opportunities to speak life over people, opportunities to show the love of God, and opportunities to lead others into the kingdom. I think about the ministry of Jesus, he spent his time with the people who were outcasts and those who were hated, because he had the opportunity to show them the truth and to save them. Each day we come in contact with people from all over, all walks of life, and we have no idea what they might be dealing with. Now this isn’t meaning that life is short, so go cliff jumping or act foolish, this is a call to make memories of impacting others. We are not promised tomorrow, but we can make a memory today that can be carried by others for the rest of their lives. Just like the verse in James talks about, press into what the Lord is leading you to each day, and make memories that impact others.

Live with compassion.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is holding onto grudges. You know, not letting go of something that really doesn’t matter in the big picture. Learning to forgive is a challenge, but it is one that will only help you in the end. This is something I have had to learn to really do, to show forgiveness to those who have hurt me, even if they never apologize for the hurt caused to me. When we hold onto grudges, we feel the hurt that was caused over and over again, and our entire life is affected by it. Our attitude is filled with anger, we lash out at people who only want to help us, and we lose sight of our relationship with God. I’ve never met an angry person who has an intimate relationship with God. You may want to argue with me about that fact, but I think our relationship with God reflects our outward attitude towards others. I can say this, because I am a victim to the power anger can have in our lives. Many people in my early schooling life treated me poorly, bullying me for the person God made me. I still know their names, faces, and what they said; but I forgive them. I choose to not live with chains binding me down, I choose to live with joy and in freedom. When we choose to have compassion and to forgive those that hurt us, our chains fall off and we can continue to walk towards our vision. When we do this, we make new memories, ones with love and joy, memories that have the faces and names of people we deeply care about, and we hold onto the good memories we make. When we live in anger, we miss out on the opportunity to make memories that will impact us, and we lose the wisdom that comes from those opportunities.

Meaningful memories take a chance.

Some of the best memories I have made have been spur of the moment chances. This past summer my dad and I went on a road trip to New York, and all along the way we would stop at random diners, local antique shops, and comic shops from TV. These were simple, not planned weeks in advance, just simple fun moments that we took a chance on. As a family, my parents would do something fun with my sister and I each Friday. We would do goofy things like have ice-cream and waffles for dinner, or eat under the table. Simple moments, but I will never forget them. Or recently when I was last minute able to see my girlfriends Christmas choir concert, simple moments that mean so much. All of these memories take a chance, they may require you to use some gas, to possibly make a mess, or to lose a little bit of sleep. We can make excuses, but these excuses will make us miss out on some truly joyful moments, moments that God has presented us with. Everything we have can vanish in an instant, so take hold of each day, and take the chance on making a meaningful memory.

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We are never promised tomorrow. Life is chaotic, things can happen in an instant and take us off guard. So many tragedies have happened this year, and even in the recent months. We live in a world that has been separated from God, a world where we are so busy focused on what we want and not what God wants for us. No matter how many laws are passed, or safeguards we put up, we will never be at peace. Our trust needs to be placed in the creator of the universe. Each day we need to know that we have a chance, a chance to impact the people around us, a chance to make a memory that will direct our life. When we live each day listening to what God has for us, no matter what happens to us, we can know we have victory over the enemy. In times of tragedy like the recent attacks in Paris, or the daily struggles of not feeling worth it, or when it feels like the world is crashing down around us; we can use our words to speak life, we can comfort those in need, and we can rally around those who feel like they can’t do it alone. We can make memories that will last forever and impact what we do and how we live forever. So take hold of every opportunity, have compassion to everyone around you, and take a chance on the moments life presents you with.

Make meaningful memories.

-Joshua Thomas

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