Human memory is an amazing facility. A small piece of meat, at the front of our brains, less than a cubic inch in size, can store more information than a super-computer.
Our memory also stores a record of many of the things that have happened to us. This is not just a list of events. Our memory stores video and audio. Sometimes it store the smells and the touches we experienced too. We can recall events from the past and relive them again, as we lived them the first time. More than that, the emotions that we experienced are stored alongside the audio and the video. They are recalled with the sounds and sights of the memory.
We have the ability to recall events from most stages of our lives. When we bring them into our minds, it is like we are experiencing them again. I can close my eyes, and see my mother when I was a child baking biscuits. I can recall the taste and the smell.
I can remember sitting in school as a five year old and making a booklet out of yellow paper to write lists of words in. We did not have a stapler, so I stitched the spine of the book with needle and cotton thread. I can remember when the small school got its first stapler, because it was such a marvellous thing.
The memory facility is neutral. It just stores stuff. It can store things that are good. It can store stuff that is evil. Christians want their memories to be filled with good stuff. We need memories of evil stuff too, for our protection, but we do not want these memories to be so vivid. For evil, the facts will usually be enough.
The memory tends to get a good press from Christians, but this is not quite right. Memories are like computer hard drives that need to be cleaned up and defragmented when they get full of junk. We reorganise our memories by recalling things. Memories we never try to recall, tend to disappear deeper in. Things or events that we recall often are kept fresh.
Vivid negative memories are dangerous, because they pop out when we do not expect it, and constrain our behaviour.
There are several ways we can restructure our memories for good.
Worship defrags the memory. If we constantly recall what God has done for us and give thanks, those memories seem to move to the front.
If we forgive people that hurt us, the memories of those hurts will retreat. It is not a case of forgive and forget, but forgive and the memory will grow dim and less dominating.
If we have really bad memories that keep popping out, we may need to ask the Holy Spirit to remove them. Prayer with others might help with that.
Some of our memories will be false. False memories can have a negative effect on our behaviour. We need to talk to people who can help us correct them. Sometimes we will need the Holy Spirit to correct our memories, by explaining what happened from God’s perspective.
Christians should always be willing to learn new things. We should always strive to correct wrong facts that we have put in our memories.
We should frequently recall the dreams that God has given to inspire and direct us.
We should recall the prophesies that God has spoken to us over and over again.