Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
~From the television show The Wonder Years
I have been literally looking in the mirror lately, trying to really see who I have become. Often I don’t recognize myself. I can see similarities to the younger me that I once knew but there are significant changes that are somewhat bewildering. Have you ever stood, staring into your own eyes for any length of time? I have and sometimes I have the urge to talk to the stranger I see staring back at me. Who are you? Where did the real Michelle go? What have you done with her? Tell her to come back, please?
And then pictures start flashing across my mind of other times, years before, I stood in the exact same place, staring at a younger version of myself, asking myself other questions pertinent for that particular time. But this precise moment there weren’t any tangible answers. Only the memories of what I was at one time or another emerge.
The memories flood into the corners of my mind, one after another…a high school graduate; a woman wearing a military uniform; a carefree young lady seeing the world for the first time; a young woman, getting married to the first man she loved; a first time mother excited & loving life; a wife being left & losing her dream; a woman overcoming loss; a woman achieving a goal; a new woman in Christ; a panicked mother of 4 young children; a woman with the rug pulled out from underneath her; a 9 to 5 woman; a fallen woman; a woman restored; becoming a new mother-in-law & a grandmother. All those women staring back at me, saying to me,”You are the sum of these!”
I am aware that this is an age-old dance human play over time. Age begins to press on our heals and we begin searching for the meaning in everything we have experienced. We begin to examine the places our choices have taken us, the occasions that became turning points in our lives. We take account of the memories that have stayed with us and put them into categories, like childhood, teenage, young adult, mid-life, etc. It is a wonder that our minds can even recount these events let alone the hours we have spent living our life.
Let me take this opportunity to make a point here…
There are 8,760 hours in one year.
I have been alive on earth 397,824 hours
Length of time as a Christian 140,160 hours
And in one year I spend…
Approximate time sleeping 17,885 hours
(based on average 7 hrs a day)
Time at home or other 5,524 hours
Time at work 2,250 hours
Time commuting to work 690 hours
Approximate time at church 338 hours
Vacation time 90 hours
Looking at my little time chart above you can see, just calculating basic time spent in a one year period, how it would be impossible to account for every one of those hours. I tried to calculate certain activities like eating, watching TV, web surfing, bible study or praying but understandably they were virtually impossible to do so. But the picture became clear to me when considering that I do participate in these things, time is indeed spent, never to be gotten back. Time, the Lord has given me.
All my memories of certain hours in my life, goodness, I could not even begin to add them up.While sometimes unsettling, I may not recognize myself at this stage in my life but I know that God is, at this very minute, forming me into the image He has in His mind. His memories of me are complete. He remembers all 397,824 hours of my life. When I submit to His time management program I will become what He has planned for me. My responsibility is to be grateful for the time given to me and to praise God for His goodness in my life even when I did not know Him…because He certainly knew me, loved me and called me.
When I read the scripture below, the last line struck me as odd. “He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” What would keep someone from reflecting on the days of their life, especially when they are standing in front of a mirror asking themselves questions about their identity? I believe it has to do with contentment where God has placed you. If you are truly grateful and contented with your life and the place God has put you then you will not spend the time worrying & fretting over the future or regretting the past.
I have to be honest and tell you that I am not completely contented but I am grateful for the hours of my life. I am grateful for the sum of all the women I have been. And I know that whatever God has for me next will be a wonderful addition to the sum of these.
18 Then I realized that
it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find
satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of
life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables
him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a
gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
(New International Version)