I am a millennial who was in high school when Facebook was getting big, but we still only had flip phones that took horrible photos. For this I am grateful.
Whenever Facebook reminds me of statuses I posted during high school, I cringe. Dumb, cryptic song lyrics about how I was feeling; literal, boring answers to “What are you doing?”; and lots of complaining about homework. The saving grace is that it was harder to post pictures back in 2008, when I had to plug my actual camera or memory card into my family’s home computer, save the file, and then upload the picture to my Facebook albums. I have plenty of pictures from that time period, but many of them are safe from public viewing.
Facebook has a little reminder feature that shows you what you posted On This Day of the year in past years. Sometimes I love seeing those Memories, but sometimes I hate it.
The Lord is good and gracious that I don’t have to look back on a million selfies of me and my friends with our acne, braces, and flare jeans too often. Because my high school photos were not obsessively shared, I now don’t have to be reminded of them every year. Occasionally an old picture resurfaces and we laugh about it, but there’s no need to reminisce about those awkward years where I teeter tottered between thinking I knew everything and feeling inadequate in everything.
I don’t want to imagine about what I’ll think when I’m even further removed from my high school years. I’m sure it only gets more embarrassing and humbling.
But what about the memories it does notify me to remember? The Facebook algorithm doesn’t care if it’s reminding you of a sensitive subject, an emotional season, or bad choices you’d prefer to forget.
Birthday reminders for a family member who has passed away. Auto-created friendship anniversary videos of people who are no longer in my real life. Old statuses about things I was excited for that did not end well. Things I posted that were so obviously trying to be cool or get a little approval.
Remembering can be hard because it shows us our human failures and weaknesses.
But it’s not all bad memories. Sometimes it reminds us of really good events and seasons. People starting families and then seeing posts years later of these little babies that are not so little anymore. Successes we had that meant the world to us.
I follow along with my semester abroad every January through May as it shows me pictures of what I was doing in England or Europe on this day, 4, 5, 6 years ago. Some days I smile for the fun and blessings I had. Some days I cry for what used to be mine but is no longer.
Remembering can be hard on us mentally when it makes us compare our present with our past. Whatever you did on this day five years ago my have been great. Praise the Lord for that! But it’s so easy to wish we were there now and think life would be so much better if I was doing that, was living there, or was with those people. It’s bittersweet.
Remembering is actually talked about in the Bible a lot. We plead for God to remember us in our troubles or to show mercy and remember our sins no more. God also tells us to remember both the good and the bad.
“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there.” Deuteronomy 24:18
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11
We remember past tough seasons to see how God has carried us. Sometimes we push those painful memories aside and forget what God has done to bring us back from that pit. We start to think we got to where we are through our own strength and smarts. But we need that humbling act of remembering where we used to be to understand how far God has brought us and that it’s his name that should be praised.
It might even help to jot down or journal about those hard times of your life pointing out what God has done for you since. Record your journey during a season where you feel strong and held up by the Lord, during a time where you can clearly see what God was doing in your life. There will come another season when you need to read this back to yourself.
But maybe you’re not currently on the other side of a bad situation. You’re still sitting in the dark valley all while seeing pictures and statuses of your days in the sun.
The same remembering can lead you back to the positive path. If you have a record of God’s goodness, you know he has the power to do it again. It’s a pep talk to yourself, prepared in the good days so that you can face the bad days.
When you’re in a bad place, sometime the last thing you want is a well-meaning friend to tell you it will get better. Even hearing from someone else that God loves you can be hard when you simply don’t feel it and can’t force yourself to believe it. But we tend to place a little more stock in things we say about our own lives. Sometimes the best advice in a current struggle is a note from your past self that says you will get through this.
Write your own personal self-help book, which is really just pointing out God-help. List how God has proven who he is to you in concrete ways.
In high school I was worried about… but God…
In college I struggled with… but God…
Last week I thought this was going to be a big deal… but God…
No matter how we feel about our present compared to our On This Day memories, we rejoice that we’ve had a good God through it all. We must learn to sing of what God has done, even on the hard days. Our emotions and situations change, but God does not. Imagine if every day of the year you got these notifications:
God loved you so much that he made a plan to save you. (John 3:16)
God is always with you. (Matthew 28:20)
God has good plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Those Bible verses were true when the were written, are still true for us today, and will always be true in the future. If you don’t want to write your own journal of God’s redeeming power in your life, then read the Bible for the best examples and way to remember.
While we may look back in embarrassment or shame about our pasts, God does not because Jesus took all of that away by paying for our sins once and for all. God knows who you will yet become. He sees the end of your journey and knows that while challenging, our struggles are preparing us for something greater than this life.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“I called to the Lord in distress;
the Lord answered me
and put me in a spacious place.
The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
The Lord is my helper,
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.”
Psalm 118:5-7, 24-26 (CSB)
A favorite song of mine right now is Lauren Daigle’s “I Remember.” (Click here to listen!) Sing to God no matter what this day brings or what our past digs up. He has always been faithful.