In December 2010, after unpacking all of our boxes, there was one box we never found. Of all the boxes to lose – this one really, really hurt. I never found my journals.
At the age of 15 I started writing down key moments of my life in these journals. I wrote down the the challenges I faced, the answers to prayer, and the miracles I experienced. With the exception of the journal from they year we married and moved from Dallas to Seattle, all of my journals from the age of 15 to 35 are gone.
Twenty years of my life has been lost! As someone who processes through writing and someone with a bad memory, I have really struggled with this loss. So much of my writing is story-driven like when in Not Like Me I shared about kidnapping a Muslim teenager or when we got kicked off a plane for scaring passengers right after 9/11.
It feels like I’ve lost all of my material for future books. I’ve lost my stories! I’ve lost a record of the last 20 years of my life!
I’ve called the moving company and filed a formal complaint. In the paperwork I filled out, they asked the value of the missing property. How much are our memories worth? How much money would ease the sadness of what I’ve lost?
In the end, I didn’t ask for money, I asked for the journals. I wanted them to keep looking until they were found. After two years of waiting and hoping and praying, we’ve got nothing!
This might seem silly, but I have actually in some ways grieved the loss of these memories. I have been holding out hope they would be found, but I have been coming to grips with the fact I will probably never see them again. Any time someone talks about their journal or a diary, I am reminded of what I have lost.
Trying to encourage me, friends have suggested maybe someone has been reading them and turning my life story into a movie. One day I will be watching a film and suddenly recognize a moment from when I was 25 years old that I had forgotten! Rather than encourage me, this idea has now freaked me out. What if someone did find my journals and somehow used these memories against me or exaggerate my story to humiliate me!
Now I am hoping they are sitting in a box in a warehouse like the Ark of the Covenant somewhere.
Once I take those kind of goofy and self-focused thoughts captive, and start thinking more rationally and even praying about the situation, a new and better thought comes to mind.
Maybe God allowed this to happen to remind me that the best is yet to come. The best parts of my story have not yet been written. My 20s and 30s were great, but my 40s and 50s will be even greater!
What about you? What if your memories of the past are slowing you down from a better future? Either good memories or bad memories may be holding you back. 2012 was the end of the Mayan calendar – the end of an era. That means 2013 is our chance to start over! We can experience a better future once we make the choices necessary to head into a new direction. What are you willing to sacrifice to put yourself on a new trajectory?
Maybe you need to leave your pride in 2012? Maybe you have been too proud to ask others to help or too proud to follow someone else or too proud to serve others? Maybe you need to leave your bitterness towards someone in 2012?
We should never allow the past to haunt our present and ruin our future.
John Burke recently reminded of this great verse as we enter a new year:
My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. – Philippians 3:13-14 (J.B. Phillips translation)
What do you need to leave in 2012 so that it won’t ruin 2013?