There are special days in the year that simply stand out in our memory. For some these are happy moments as they remind them of their birthday or the day they were married. These happy occasions bring a smile as we remember the date is coming closer to us. There are also other days that we remember that may not be such a joy to remember. For me there are some dates that really stand out in my memory and some dates make me smile while others sadden my heart. I want to talk about these dates today.
July 29th was always such a special day to me because it was on that day that my now ex-husband proposed to me. Several years later our eldest daughter was born on that day. I am so glad that I have her to focus on for that date. There is another date that is connected to her, December 13th. The 13th was a happy date as it was my brother’s wedding but a year later it became burned into my memory as a horrible date and one that I hated to see come each year as it was on that day that he died. I always felt so bad that he died on his first wedding anniversary. I still dislike that date. But several years later I found out on December 13th that I was pregnant with my first child and somehow that made this date a little more bearable. I find that no matter how old I become the date of December 13th is not a pleasant day for me and so I try to block out the date and not think about it too much.
I also have other dates that bring a mixture of joy and sadness. I remember each of my parent’s birthdays and their wedding anniversary. I feel so blessed to have had them as my parents but I also feel that I wasted many years of opportunities with them that could have been more than I made them to be. I am so thankful that I will be spending eternity with them as this hope makes life without them easier to live. I feel the same way about my sister. I remember her birthday every year and think of her and how I miss her. I also think of her on her wedding anniversary and how I remember that I was sick at home from school when she came bursting into the kitchen to tell my Mom and me that she was married and we welcomed her husband into the family. I even remember what my Mom was cooking that day, it was homemade vegetable soup and the kitchen windows were all steamed up with condensation from the boiling soup. We were all so happy to have my brother-in-law in our family. As I think of this I can almost smell the soup! Funny how that smell is burned into my memory.
How can I ever forget September 11th as our nation was attacked in so many locations. That day I was taking my daughter to school and she and I heard the news on the radio. We were simply shocked! How could such tragedies be unfolding in our country? As the days went on I was like most of the people in my country, glued to the television reports and mourning the loss of so many innocent lives taken that day. I feel the same sense of loss about June 3rd of every year as I remember being in the midst of Grand Island, Nebraska in 1980 and terrified by all the tornadoes that ravaged our small community. What I remember the most is how my uncle who had been a soldier in Korea simply could not stand to see the devastation as we drove he and my aunt through town. He said that it brought back too many memories he thought were long forgotten of the war-torn country of Korea. War must be a terrible memory for people to endure.
I always have a difficult time every year when a certain date rolls around that was the date of my wedding. This year would have been our fortieth wedding anniversary. It makes me sad that our lengthy marriage ended in divorce. I also hate the date of our divorce trial as it reminds me again of our failure to keep our marriage alive and healthy. Those same old feelings of failure are associated with those two dates and I have to work very hard to make myself realize that I am not a failure. God sees me and loves me so I must not be a failure as a woman. I have turned those days into days of forgiveness and analyze my feelings to be sure that I have completely forgiven all who were involved in the breakup and divorce. It gives me peace to forgive and to be sure that I am still forgiving. I have learned that forgiveness is a perpetual experience more than a once in a lifetime experience.
I also have some joyful anniversaries to remember. The day each of my children were born and the day two were married as well as the day my son was adopted and my granddaughter born. Now those are some really upbeat and fun memory days. Three times I gave birth and three times I did so naturally without medication and each birth was faster than the one before it! I smile as I remember how precious those tiny hands, fingers, feet, and toes were and how gentle I handled each child. And then how could I ever forget the first time I saw my precious little boy in person! Oh how sweet he was and how quietly he took everything in and how he cried when I first held him because he didn’t want to leave the arms of the nanny who had raised him for seventeen months. How helpless I felt in trying to sooth him because I didn’t speak Chinese and he didn’t speak English. But what a special moment, one I will never forget just as I will never forget the birth of my other three children. Happy memories, happy anniversaries!
Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility. Ecclesiastes 11:6-8, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
He was right. There are many days and memories that bring a smile to my heart from my youth and as I grew older there are many days and memories that bring me sorrow. So as I continue to live my life on this earth I will also continue to sow seeds of kindness and forgiveness. I will continue to show mercy and God’s love to everyone that I can. Even the dark days, the hard lessons learned during those dark times made me stronger because I turned to the Lord for comfort and guidance. There’s more that Solomon says.
Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!” Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, 12:1-8, (NASB).
It is in our memories of the good times that we find courage to continue in the difficult times that will come to us all. Life is always full of a mixture of both good and bad times. For Solomon as he aged he grew farther and farther away from God and he was not a happy man. I don’t want to follow his example; rather I want to draw nearer and nearer to my God through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance. Solomon sounds rather depressed when he talks about how aging is not fun because it ends in the death of our physical bodies. We have the opportunity to rejoice in our aging and eventual death if we look beyond this world and into eternity. Everyone will go to judgement after death so Solomon gives the advice to remember that our life here is not forever. He challenges us to remember our Creator! I like that! It is in remembering God that I realize the hard times strengthened my faith and clarified what I truly believe. That was important for me. The happy times also remind me that God has been so faithful to me and gave me such wonderful blessings. I am thankful for that as well. What about your own anniversaries? What have they taught you?