by Sarah Siders
Sarah Siders is one part hippie and one part sensible Midwesterner, tucked into a college town where she writes, social works and pastors a church plant with her husband. When she gets free time, she will pick books, coffee shops and travel first. As honestly as she can, she writes on parenting, relationships and being a human following Jesus at her blog, www.sarahsiders.com, or you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook. I love her writing. Enjoy!
My memory is rotten. Literally. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you there must be holes where the memories are supposed to be. About once a day, I misplace my keys or my phone. I walk into a room and forget why I’m there. Sometimes I forget appointments. I’ve even missed weddings.
But there’s one thing I don’t forget easily: my failures. Despite my frequent absentmindedness, I recall with brilliant clarity each of my integrity compromises and lapses in judgment. I remember every time I fell off the wagon in college, when I swore I’d stop drinking and making out with boys. But the next month, I was back at it. Or Sunday mornings when I tell God, This time I’m serious. I’m going to read my Bible and pray more. I’m going to do better. But by Monday, I’m hitting Snooze again.
Quiet times made for tedious acrobatics. It was no wonder I avoided God. I started most of our times together by reminding him of my recent List of Bad Stuff. I wallowed in a bit of self-condemnation, just to save God time. Begging for forgiveness followed, along with promises to never-or-always-do-whatever again, which we both knew was a little too ambitious. But I promised anyway.
I felt like my life with God was a waste, one sad mistake followed by apology, again and again. A cycle I could never quite break.
One morning as I drove to work, I asked forgiveness again for disconnecting, for being bad at daughterhood. Before I had time to launch into a full-blown repentance session, though, God interrupted to remind me of something.
Although I was familiar with my moments of failure, indulgence and falsehood, he looked back on our relationship with fondness. He remembered the afternoons I spent with him, the mornings I woke up early to read my Bible, my longing to know him. He remembered every song I sang, and how it felt like my heart might explode.
He saw me try. He saw my love, my yearning reach toward him. And that’s what his father heart remembered.
My eyes filled with tears as I recalled my desire for God through the years. Suddenly I knew those moments mattered more than I realized. God wasn’t holding grudges; he only wanted connection all along, and he saw every time I wanted it too.
It counts. It all counts. I can’t believe it, I repeated to myself, grateful and in awe. Every conversation, every sacrifice, every movement I made toward God counts. And when I asked forgiveness the first time, he forgot about the bad stuff. Because he wanted to.
There is a place for confession, for acknowledging wrongdoing and making a choice to turn from it. These practices allow room for forgiveness and self-awareness, restoring a relationship to health.
But it’s the groveling and self-loathing God wants to be done with. They aren’t requirements for forgiveness and getting the marks off our side of the board. What Jesus’ blood covers, God chooses to forget. He doesn’t want our sin in the way, blocking his view of his beloved ones. So he flushes it as far down as it will go. Gives our misdemeanors and felonies an ocean floor address.
The act of forgetting shouldn’t just be God’s thing. We don’t have any business rehearsing what he erased. This kind of behavior puts us back in the borrower mentality, feeling like we owe something when that’s the very mindset from which Jesus came to save us. Jesus offers us a debt forgiven, a blackboard wiped clean, a wildly generous ransom exchange. It’s ours to accept.
I still forget to remember God’s case of divine amnesia. Sometimes I still go to God with The List, things we’ve already talked about a million times, but he is so over it. He wants to talk about the good stuff, to remind us that love and his blood cover a multitude of sins. Just the way he wants it.
Let’s do this together: Ask God what he remembers about your relationship with him. See what you hear, then write it down. Because if anyone is going to forget the good stuff, it will be us.