What do you do with a box of memories?

Between the holidays I received a package. It smelled like basement and looked like it had survived a lifetime of moves. The tape on top no longer held…I know it’s probably because of age but I also know parcels like this are charged with emotion struggling to break free.

Inside were pictures and mementos from years gone by; varsity letters, family photos, play programs, newspaper articles, and wedding pictures. As you can imagine, some items brought wide smiles while others stirred sadness. As I made my way toward the bottom I wondered, “What do you do with a box of memories?”

My first instinct was simple: sort them into two piles mentally labelled “Keep” and “Pitch.” The keepers would be the ones that preserved happy times and good thoughts. The castoffs would be pictures that brought back bad memories and had people in them that I don’t like anymore.

As I viewed the photos and read the articles and pondered the keepsakes I discovered it’s not that simple. Each artifact was attached to something or someone I loved and loved me. Regardless of our geographical or relational proximity today, each person represented in that box has helped shape me into who I am.

Too often I (we) create time capsules that are beyond inaccurate…they are fictitious. Whether on FaceBook, in leather journals, or in old cardboard boxes we pitch the items that aren’t pleasant. We don’t want to acknowledge or remember them. The result: In our attempts to find a happy place we rob ourselves of experiencing the depth and beauty that can only come from weathering harsh forces. My favorite place on earth was shaped by sun, wind, rain, and floods. Yet my temptation is to do everything I can to avoid the things that have power to bring out the real beauty that lies beneath the surface in me.

As my piles began to merge into one it was hard to avoid what God seemed to be saying to me, “What do you do with a box of memories? Be grateful for all of them. Let me help you embrace it all.”

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