Who is the Gatekeeper of Your Memories?
Get Over It
From childhood, we were taught to stuff our emotions. As tears slid down your face, perhaps you were told, “Men don’t cry!” Or, “It didn’t mean anything, he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing.” Or “Good girls don’t get raped.” Or “Christians aren’t allowed to be angry.”
Such words place the onus of guilt on the wounded person who needs comfort. That failure to validate their pain is interpreted by the brain as he or she has no value.
Many of us struggle when we experience sudden surfacing of memories from the past. When the memories rise out of trauma or victimization, it is terrifying, for the memories are as real as the moment the actual event happened.
Well-meaning Christians respond, “The old has passed away. Just get over it!” And, “We serve a victorious God! Stop living in the past.” But God designed our brain and it doesn’t forget.
When I understood I could not, by an act of will power, just get over trauma I had experienced, I felt hopeless. Then my studies on the brain taught me no one can get over the past by will power; that was the beginning of being freed from the lie – just get over it!
You see those memories are inscribed in your brain and in your DNA. All your good intentions and resolutions, all your prayers, buffeting your body, or repressing your emotions won’t restore you to who you were prior to that event or events.
The Problem With Rules
You may experience memories and overpowering fantasies of hunger assaulting your senses. Longings for food, for sex, for acceptance, for the old crowd. Even longings for socially acceptable things like success in ministry.
Very quickly those hungers spill over healthy boundaries and drive us as individuals. Especially when memories are interwoven in our imagination blocking us from discerning the true from the false, the pure from the impure.
As followers of Christ, we know the rules. But when the rules we desperately struggle to obey don’t alter the feelings driving us in the opposite direction, we try to smother our pain so we don’t feel.
But God gave us emotions. He also allows us to experience feelings so we learn to make healthy choices rather than be ruled by our flesh.
When you suppress your feelings, ultimately, the pressure builds until unmet needs and painful memories become like a volcano and explode. In the aftermath, you feel broken and believe you are a failure.
That is the problem with rules. They show us our sin, but they cannot protect us from painful memories.
The Blessing of Honesty
God wants you to have the release of safety valves to express what is going on inside of you. He is not intimidated by honesty. He encourages you to walk in the light with a trusted friend or mentor so you develop healthy emotions.
Its really difficult to be vulnerable. Our tendency is to withdraw or hide when memories hit.
But there’s a catch. Running away or pretending we don’t need anyone leaves us unable to face our pain, our longings, our unmet needs; it opens us to more defeat.
Here’s the big secret.
While you and I cannot by our own strength of will restore what was stolen from us, or keep our feet on the path of righteousness, Jesus can! He has already walked through the valley and conquered the darkness with its deep love hungers, fears, and insecurities.
Today, in this moment in time, Jesus walks beside you. He is greater than your past; greater than any powerful memory that leaves you paralyzed or empty.
King David said, “The LORD [is] thy keeper: the LORD [is] thy shade upon thy right hand”. (Psa 121:5 KJV). He adds the Lord in His role as your keeper, the watchman on the wall of your life, will preserve you from evil, He will protect your soul and even your going out and coming in will be under His watchful care.
My friend, it gets even better. When you were in your mother’s womb, though your parents may have not chosen you, the Heavenly Father did! He was there, gently forming you, loving you, singing and speaking life over you. He understands your feelings of rejection, of fear, of trying to gain value through seeking to be perfect or finding a person to fill your love hunger.
He is there when you engage in self-destructive behavior in your attempts to self-atone for your inability to be filled.
The Lord was with you in that car crash, He was with you when your brother died. He held you as you held your dying baby. He experienced the violence when you were being sexually violated. He was there grieving with you in Vietnam as you saw your buddies die.
There is no area of wounding in your life when He was not present. And though it doesn’t feel like it, He was actively protecting you from even greater harm. The Lord is your protector.
As a tripart being, you have a body, a soul, and a spirit. According to this verse, He is involved, not just in the care of your spiritual health, but He guards your body and your soul. Your memories are part of who you are; they are written on your hippocampus and in your DNA and are expressed through your soul. But DNA can be changed! And memories can be healed.
God the Father is the Keeper, the Guardian, the Protector you have longed for all of your life. He is the watchman on the wall of your heart, calling you to come to Him for shade. The word shade is the same word as shadow, If you learn to rest under His shadow, He provides shade that hides you from danger.
We are keen to protect ourselves, fearful of losing our independence. But the Father beckons us to Himself, where He becomes our defense and our covering.
When you feel threatened or shaken, try praying these wonderful words of life over yourself.
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings” (Psa 17:8 NKJV)
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psa 36:7 ESV)
When David fled for his life, he prayed: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by” (Psa 57:1 NLT)
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psa 63:7 NIV)
Claim this precious promise when you feel stressed or afraid. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psa 91:1 NKJV).
How awesome is that?
You and I are not good gatekeepers. No matter how hard you try, thoughts will churn in your brain that you can’t conquer. But there is One who is greater than all your thoughts, all your fears, all your emptiness and need. It is Christ Jesus who went before you and made a way where there was no way.
My dear friend, I pray you learn to run to Jesus for help. He will take you to the Heavenly Father, where Daddy God will hold you close under the shadow of His wing, protecting and guarding you from all danger.
Strong’s Concordance. Keeper: H8104 שָׁמַר shâmar; primitive root; properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc.: observe, preserve, regard, reserve, watch(-man). Accessed 25 Jun 18.
Shade: H6738 צֵל tsêl, tsale; shade, whether lit. or fig.: defense, shade(-ow). Ibid.