For most of us Memorial Day means two wonderful words: MONDAY OFF! For others it’s a day to gather folks around and fire up the grill. For still others it’s your chance to torture your family by watching every war movie in the history of film. (I enjoy all three actually). At it’s core, Memorial Day is the day set aside to stop and remember those who have given their lives in service to this country. Many people take this time to remember all of their loved ones who have died. Remembering is an essential component of healing, but there are ways to remember well, and ways of remembering that will do damage to us and impede the healing process. Here are some things to think about when you delve into your memories:
Don’t use your remembering to beat yourself up.
We have all said things or left things unsaid that we regret. We have all made bad decisions in the past. We have all let someone down. It’s possible to go back to those moments from our past and feel shame, humiliation, and guilt as strongly as if the event were happening today. The simple truth is: punishing yourself today won’t change yesterday. It’s important to remember in context, which means that of course you messed up, but so did the people you love. We all do. Odds are that you have forgiven those your love for their mistakes and bad decisions, maybe it’s time to forgive you as well. You must always remember with grace.
Don’t get stuck in your remembering.
Sometimes the pain of the past can be so deep that it’s hard to escape it. We think, re-think, and then think again about what happened last year and even last week. It’s possible to live in such a way that our mistakes or the pain of our past is never far away from us. That way of living steals the joy and peace that are available to us today. The purpose of remembering is to allow us to live better today. Living in the past steals our today, and weakens our tomorrows. So, go back and remember, but then give energy to the people and choices around you today.
I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day, and if today is filled with memories for you, I hope that you will allow them to help you live and love more fully today!