My son recently turned forty years old. I wonder how that happened.  I know, one day at a time.  Seriously though, I can scarce take it in that I have a 40-year-old son. When I awaken on his birthday, I found myself back to the morning of his birth, almost instantaneously.  Birthing your firstborn has a way of creating strong memories, even though thousands of babies are born each year, right?  The question is, how do we want to pass on our memories to the next generation?

“Our strongest memories often come from unusual moments that take place within otherwise familiar traditions” Mark Batterson, The Grave Robber

In Mark Batterson’s book, The Grave Robber,  he reminds of an unusual moment in Jesus’ history from the gospel of Luke where we see Jesus as a young boy.  The family had come to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, a family tradition.  However this time, Jesus stayed behind. In Luke 2:46-52 of The Message

The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt.His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.”

He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about. So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. 

Notice that his mother Mary, held that moment dearly, deep within herself.  Mothers have a way of doing that, don’t you think?  I wonder if this story was retold over and over again as a moment or memory to remember, a family story that cemented who Jesus was becoming.  Perhaps that memory sustained him often as he waited until the right time to begin his ministry.

What strong memories give you clues about yourself? 

Strong memories have a way of building clues to our future, as this example did for Jesus. Jesus knew he would be dealing with the things of his Father, even at an early age. When you look back, what memories give you clues to the person you are today?

For example, I remember playing teacher with my friends and my dolls. I ended up training to be an elementary teacher. At my core, however, I am a teacher.   That memory reveals teaching as part of the gifts and skills that God has provided to me. I have taught in various forms throughout my life – elementary teacher, student-teacher mentor and supervisor, life coach and spiritual director. Today, I am homeschooling my kindergarten grandson.

How will you share those strong memories? 

Depending with whom and what your strong memories are, you may want to find ways to duplicate them within your family, extended family or even your community. For example, I have a friend whose mom was quite active in the community and she has found that to be a core value for herself.

I have strong memories of learning with my grandmother, memories I hold near and dear to my heart.  I have little sayings from her, little prayers she taught me, even pillowcases she taught me to embroider.  She made me feel capable, loved and seen.

By reflecting on those memories with my grandmother, I have become more intentional with my own grandchildren and creating special moments with them. They then discover who they are and what special gifts may take them into the future.

Another way I have found to share strong memories has been through writing.  With my son’s fortieth birthday, I wrote him a short account of the events leading up to his birth, (like a 4-hour labor!) and some of the memories I had as a first-time mom.  Since he now has three daughters of his own, I realized he could enjoy and appreciate his birth from a different perspective.  He happened to also be born on his great-grandmother’s 99th birthday, a genealogy piece of history we have neglected to celebrate all these years.

What memories do you have that you want to go forward in your family?

Your stories and memories reveal who you are and what is important at your core.  Your story matters to God and to your family.  What one memory comes to mind that reveals a special tradition or even funny part of you that your family hasn’t heard?

I encourage you to begin pondering about what traditions and values come to mind. What is revealed in memories that are near and dear to your heart?  You have much to share with your families and friends.  What can God bring to your remembrance?

If you need some help on where to start, let me know.  I would be happy to walk with you on this journey of intentionality and sharing.

I have an addendum to this post.  After I wrote this post, my father-in-law passed away.  He was 97 and lived a long, good life.  These stories now will be collected about him.  We have many memories to collect in the days and weeks ahead.

Milestone birthdays and the death of loved ones trigger memories.  I hope you’ll write them down.