I heard about a book the other day called “What Your Childhood Memories Say About You . . . and What You Can Do About It” by Dr. Kevin Leman. The premise, as far as I can tell from the little I heard, is that you can tell a lot about a person’s main struggle in life by the first memory that they have. How intriguing? I didn’t have a hard time travelling back in my brain and pulling out my oldest memory .
I must have been around 3 or 4 because we lived in Cherokee Park, LA. I remember walking out of my bedroom into the dark living room and noticing that I was alone. I remember feeling small, insignificant and alone. I can remember what nightgown I was wearing, that it was a cool evening and that the light was on in the kitchen.
I’m not sure what Dr. Leman would say about that but I can look back over my life and give it a good guess. It seems that there are a few common themes. Feeling alone, even in a crowd. Feeling insignificant. Feeling like no one noticed me or wanted to hear what I had to say. Feeling like I had to make noise or become what people wanted me to be in order to be noticed.
I know it isn’t true. I know my family loved me. I know my parents believed in me. But, nevertheless, we all have our demons and more often than not, we don’t see them until much later in life. What a shame, because so many things could have been different if I could have let go of that weight long ago.
Thank God that He is faithful and persistant. As I think through my life and how these unspoken “realities” effected me, I realize that it isn’t my only vivid memory. I have many others after that. Memories of God breaking through and touching my world. I can still smell and feel these memories just as vividly as I can feel that long sleeved flannel night gown touching my feet.
I was 9, walking down an isle in an open air church on a hot summer night at Mt. Lebanon camp. Tears ran down my face as I was desperate to give my heart to Jesus.
Sitting in a metal chair on another warm September night at a tent meeting in Waco, Tx. I heard a message that woke something in my heart. There was more to this thing called faith and I wanted it. All of it.
It was a black sports car that we sat in, me and this boy that made my heart jump. I clutched the cross pendant around my neck and cried as I heard God speak to my heart that he wasn’t the one and I had to end it.
I talked on the phone while I sat on a bed in a one bedroom apartment that six flight attendants shared in Boston. I’d just started my new job but this two hour conversation about God, what scripture was teaching us and what we wanted out of life was better than traveling the world. He said “I love you” and I knew God was saying, “Yep, that’s him.”
I whispered to the most precious baby girl I’d ever seen, “I love you so much that it hurts.” And without missing a beat, I heard God say to my heart, “ And I love you infinitely more.”
As I led worship one Sunday morning I felt like God wanted me to share something. After the service, a tearful woman hugged me and said that God spoke directly to her situation through me.
Sitting with my husband one evening after we had been struggling with the thought of planting a church. We realized at the same time earlier that day, we had separately been talking to our dads who both gave there encouragement and suggested a name for the church. The same exact name.
A stranger during a youth camp prayer time walked up and said, “I feel like God wants me to tell you that He has something for you to do and you don’t feel qualified. Know that He has given you everything you need to accomplish the work ahead of you. “
Feeling led to encourage a stranger in a mall, I told her that God loved her and that she was precious to Him. In fact, she was like a Rose to him. Beautiful and sweet. She smiled really big and said, “That’s what my grandma use to call me. “
Praying with a friend and seeing a picture in my mind. I shared it with her only to realize it was a scene from her childhood. God wanted her to know that He had been with her and seen her pain all along.
So many vivid, tangible and powerful memories reminded me that I was not alone. I never was. God walked with me when I didn’t know it and even when I didn’t deserve it. Memories that encouraged me along the way to believe that I have gifts and that God wants to use them. Memories that broke the power of those lies I began to believe so many decades ago as my Father chipped away at their grip on my heart a little here and a little there. With such patience and such love. Watching and protecting me, blessing me with encouragement and reminders of his presence and his power, always drawing me back to the truth that I matter. I matter because I am His and I have something to say because my message is His message.
Among the details of that night when I was so young, two stand out. It was cold and the light was on in the kitchen. That’s so poignant to me. This world and the lies we believe are so cold. They leave us paralyzed and afraid. But God is faithful to keep the light on for us. He is always saying “This way my child” and whispering truths into our hearts and minds. Over and over He speaks until we can make our way to Him and to the truth. None of the dark lies of the enemy can hold us once we bring them into God’s light.
Think back for a while. What has God whispered to you over the years? Are you still believing the lies? Isn’t it time to step into the light and live out of the fullness of His love and purposes for you?
I hope today is a memory that you hold close as the day you realized how very special you are and what incredible plans God has for you.