Becoming brave is a lifelong process. When a child is beaten until they have bruises, it’s hard to be brave. When you’re a teenager and your parents ignore your social and emotional needs, it leaves bruises on your heart. Even as adults, we often suffer from the pain of our past because unless we have processed what happened, the past continues to affect our future. The other day I heard someone say we don’t need to remember our childhood, but the truth is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.
My friend Darcy was beaten and belittled as a child. By the time Darcy grew up, she had very little self-esteem. Her first boyfriend turned out to be a womanizer and a drunk. One night he grabbed her hair and beat her face into the floorboard until both of her eyes were so swollen she could barely see out of them.
Even after this happened, Darcy saw no reason to report him or to leave him. Like the frog that had adjusted to cool water until it began to boil, she had begun to accept physical and verbal abuse at an early age and she was unable to recognize her situation for what it was.
In Christian circles we often hear a saying “forgive and forget.” People who use this term are quick to point out how Jesus told us to forgive seventy times seven. This is true, but Jesus never told us to go back and ask for more abuse. What these people also forget is Jesus never told us to forget. If we really want to know what God’s word is on forgetting, then we need to go all the way back to creation.
The Bible says by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made and this includes in all creation—even the human body. A major part of the human body is the brain. When God’s Word spoke at creation, He gave us a brain to remember the past. This shows us that remembering is absolutely God ordained.
Forgiving brings healing, but so does remembering. As a matter of fact, we actually we need to remember before we can forgive in the first place. This doesn’t mean we should hold grudges, keep petty lists or sulk over the past, but remembering the past is a key to finding redemption for our suffering.
Consider someone who has amnesia and wakes up every day to burn their hand on the stove again because they can’t remember they burned their hand yesterday. This would not be a very healthy situation. This is why God gave us a brain–it is not His plan for us to allow ourselves to be abused over and over again.
Darcy accepted abuse she didn’t deserve. The abuse we experience in childhood can affect what we put up with in our relationships in adulthood, so it’s very important for us to learn from these lessons. To be brave as an adult might include remembering our childhood so we can build a healthier future. You might think it doesn’t matter, but what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood.