When your memories are filled with images of a certain person, you can begin to wonder what God is trying to say to you through these memories. Does your continued thoughts about this person mean God wants you give them another chance? Or is there some other reason for why you can’t forget this person?
Here are 4 possible reasons for why someone is haunting your memories.
1. God Is Using Your Memory to Help You Fix the Mistakes You Made with This Person
In the next 3 points, I’m going to share some reasons why God would allow you to keep having memories of someone even though he does not want you with this person. But it’s wise to also talk about remembering your past with someone that God does want you to be with in the future one day.
In truth, our memories are actually not very good at recalling details in crisp, factual truth. Rather, our memories are usually a messy conglomerate of facts and feelings mixed together. One purpose for this is because God didn’t give us our memories just so we could all accurately record the history. Rather, God gives us memories so we can learn from past mistakes, repeat past successes, and grow as individuals (Psalm 139:23-24). Without memories, we would be in a constant state of non-growth. We would just keep doing the same things over and over again regardless of the effects of our actions.
Therefore, one reason you could be remembering the past with someone is so you can dissect it and learn from it. This can then cause you to grow when you identify mistakes you made or traps you fell into. If God wants you with this person in the future, you will be able to have a better relationship with this person after a season of reflection.
Of course that is just one possibility. Sometimes God will have you recall the past with someone not so you can do better with them one day but so you can do better in a new relationship.
Therefore, here are three more reasons someone may be haunting your memories still.
2. You’ve Believed a False Memory in the Past to Help Ease Your Pain in the Present
Instead of dealing with the pain in the present, the human heart often tries to cope by escaping into the past. The problem with this, however, is that the pain now often tempts us to think things were so much better then. In reality, however, the past was often even worse.
For example, Israel missed Egypt because they allowed their current pain to create a false memory about their past. When they were in the desert suffering, they allowed that hardship to let them imagine being back in Egypt sitting around meet pots and loving life (Exodus 16:3, Numbers 14:4). In reality, however, this was not how their past life in Egypt looked. They were slaves in Egypt (Exodus 1:13-14), their children were getting murdered in Egypt (Exodus 1:15-22), and they were crying out to God to be delivered out of Egypt (Exodus 2:23-25). They missed Egypt because they had a false memory about Egypt.
Likewise, don’t turn to your past to ease the pain in your present. Trust that you made the decisions you made in the past for a good reason. If you removed someone from your life in a thoughtful and prayerful way back then, don’t second guess that decision now in a panicked and stressful state of mind.
3. You’ve Forgotten the Raw Truth for Why This Relationship Had to End
If you are living in a false reality that does not accurately remember the reasons for you and this person parting ways, your heart will involuntary keep missing them because it lacks the understanding of why you had to let them go.
It’s like never telling a child that their dad isn’t there because he died. The lack of explanation for the dad’s painful absence only makes his absence that much more painful to the child. While the truth hurts, being told the truth that the dad has died will help the child cope and understand why he’s is no longer there.
Likewise, if your heart can’t fully grasp why the good was taken from you, it will miss this person. So if you are lying to yourself about the full scope of the situation and choosing to forget the details that accurately explain why this relationship can’t exist, your heart will keep missing this person.
Never lie to yourself. The raw truth is the only way your heart can accept something painful has happened to you. Without the truth, your heart resides in a false reality. The painful truth is the only path forward, and so, even though it hurts, God will always tell you the painful truth. If he didn’t, you would slip into an endless hell of denial, living with pain that you could not understand or see the source of. Accepting the truth is not easy. It’s painful. But it’s necessary. It’s a step of acceptance.
Psalm 34:18 states, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” If you deny that you are brokenhearted, you will deny the closeness of God’s presence that he is offering you through this emotional pain.
The ghost will always live if you give it life by believing in it. Perhaps this person is haunting your memories because you have turned them into a figment of your imagination. Remember the truth. If the relationship was good and was truly what God wanted, why did it end? It most likely ended because it was not good and not what God wanted. Whatever the truth is, accept it fully.
As Jesus said, “. . . the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Ultimately Jesus is the truth that sets us free. But to walk with Jesus, you must never lie to yourself in any part of your life.
4. You’re Relying on Time to Heal You Instead of the Gospel and the Presence of God
Contrary to popular belief, time does not heal all wounds. Time buries all wounds. Like a hand rising out of the cemetery dirt, so too will your feelings keep coming back for someone if you are just layering more and more time onto them in hopes that they vanish one day.
The mind recalls what the heart has not forgiven. You will always remember the person who is still causing you pain. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is why forgetting and forgiving are so often linked in the Bible (Hebrews 8:12). Forgiving doesn’t cause the factual memories of pain to be erased from our minds. However, forgiving does remove the feeling of resentment and revenge that antagonize the pain. In this way, forgiving helps us “forget” the wrongs.
In John 8:36, Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven our sins, we can forgive other people’s sins, and thus we can move forward with the Lord instead of remaining stuck in the past.
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