Psychologically speaking, we know that there are certain memories that stay ingrained in us for long periods of time, if not ever. Unfortunately, traumatic experiences are an example of this. And maybe this is not the best example of a traumatic moment in my life because trust me I've experienced some legit traumatic things, but I just got back from driving with my dad, okay? Yeah, because that's something I've been learning, and it's really not as bad as I think it's going to be before I actually begin. Once I am driving, I'm like, oh yeah, this is easy and actually kind of fun. (I've found this to be the case with many things... Sometimes the worry can't go away until you just do something, and then once you do it, it's one of the most victorious feelings.)
Anyway, it did remind me of one of the times I almost did screw up really bad while driving. I've heard stories from people about their embarrassing driving moments when they were learning and the mistakes they did that we can laugh about since nobody got killed thankfully. Yes, I have already had one of those moments that I probably won't forget. It happened on like my second time out, because my dad wanted me to go on the interstate (he takes a just do it approach quite literally). I was terrified to merge, and the interstate we live by is really busy. It was later at night, though, so it was a little quieter than normal, but still busy. Anyway, I've done my fair share of road tripping in my life as my family and I have made countless trips up to Estherville to see my grandparents, and I can't tell you how many times I've just watched my parents drive in the fast lane.
So... I go to merge, and I really have no idea what I'm doing other than trying not to kill myself, and I don't know these rules about how when you merge you're supposed to stay in the right lane...and I've seen my parents in the fast lane all the time...so I got the idea to just go ahead and merge into the fast lane. Which my dad promptly grabbed the wheel and kept us in the right lane and asked me what the heck I thought I was doing...?
So there's my driving fail that is hopefully the last...
What I really wanted to talk about in this post was actually more positive things you won't forget in your life and how certain people, circumstances, and places can shape your life. That can be for better or worse, but today I'll take a positive approach to things and talk about the better. I hope that all of us have at least one positive memory that we have etched into our hearts, that give us hope and joy whenever we remember it. God can use those memories to, in some circumstances, even save people's lives.
I mean, say you had a really hard, dark life. There wasn't a lot of light in it. But maybe you had this one person amidst many other bad influences who never gave up on you. God can use those people to lead some people to Him, or back to Him, or just to encourage them to keep going.
For me, I've been blessed with a lot of wonderful memories even amidst my loneliness, and reflecting on those is one of the best coping strategies God uses in my life. But one of these things in particular, is the time spent with my grandparents in their small town. I always have had such special places in my heart for the times I got to stay up there when I was little; lots of times as a kid I would get to stay up there for a week for spring break. As I've gotten older, I get to go up a lot more at different points of the year, and I truly do enjoy it so much. I actually have a whole post planned about this and going in depth to how these memories have shaped me, but I wanted to focus specifically on the latest time I got to spend up there for spring break this year.
This road in Estherville is actually going to get replaced due to the new add-ons with their hospital, but my grandpa and I had to get a picture before it got destroyed because when I was really young and learning how to ride my bike and finally getting good at it, we went for a ride downtown. This road goes downhill, and it's off of the main highway. Anyway, Grandpa's brakes on his bike actually went out as we descended, and it was freaky because he was accelerating downhill with no way to stop. Thank God he was okay, but we definitely didn't want to forget that!
We also went on lots of car rides, which I love, and I got to go on a walk around the blocks of Grandpa and Grandma's house with my mom, which was fun as well. I love going for walks with people and talking like that. I just love being at my grandparents' house in their cozy little town. Trust me, I have many more blog posts coming in regards to that, but I wanted to recap this break before I forgot about it.
All of this to say, though, is that I don't think I will forget it. These special times get etched into my memory just like bad times do, and that's why I'm passionate about having good character. It's our character that ultimately people will remember, and how do you want people to remember you, as someone who gave them grief they had to get over or as someone who was the light they needed?
The way you act matters more than you probably realize. I've been shocked at how often I'm told by teachers that it really is character that counts more than intelligence, because intelligence can only do so much. If you don't have good character, ultimately it means nothing, because the only way you can change the world is through loving people. Even Jesus said that love was the most important thing (1 Corinthians 13:13), which was a hard pill for me to swallow because faith and hope are one thing, but being able to love people, especially people who don't deserve it, is hard.
But by the grace of God, He's helping me learn how to love people who don't deserve it. Trust me, it's not like it comes naturally to me—you would condemn me to hell if you heard some of the comments I've made about people who make me mad and hell—but I think that's how it is for most people. And the only way you can learn how to love other people is, honestly, by being aware of your own darkness. When you understand that you don't deserve love, you can't just say that about other people, or you're a hypocrite. But also, when you understand the depths of your own sin, you become humbled and reliant on God's love alone that saves. And then God puts this passion inside of you to want to share it with other people, because why keep such amazing, life changing news to yourself?
People don't forget that, I really don't believe they do. God has put a conscience in each one of us, even the people considered so hardened by society, and I do believe that, whether they change or not, God still uses our love even for those people to try and open their eyes.
I've learned so much of this with my grandparents, and my grandma has given me some great advice on forgiving people and loving people that I won't ever forget.
It's not easy to be the more mature person, but I hope I can do my best at that for God's glory. Because in the end, He's the One who saves, and He's the One who orchestrates certain people to come into another person's life when they might need it. And I hope that I can be that person who people remember as the girl who never gave up on them, for the glory of the God who never gives up on us.