My Life…As Others Remember It! (The Trouble With History!)


On a recent birthday, my daughter contacted family members and many of my friends, both past and present, asking them to write something about memories relating to their association with me over my lifetime. A sort of ‘This is Your Life,’ based on the old TV show. I am grateful for the memories shared and the time that many spent in sharing their thoughts and memories. It made that birthday one of the best ever!

I learned an important lesson when it comes to memories and experiences that we share together. I learned that my memory of an event can be slightly, or in some cases, vastly different than what others remember. I couldn’t help but chuckle when four friend’s versions of the same funny event that I told across the pulpit, was written down four different ways. The story’s core was there, but the details were so different that you would have to conclude that someone was in error regarding how this event happened. Even funnier is the fact that I remember it differently from all four who wrote about it.

I was once again taught that written and oral ‘history’ are simply events shared by those who experienced it, as they ‘remember’ it. Truth is a very slippery thing. It becomes especially troublesome as the years pass and the events fade. Why is that important to know? Well, recently, there has been documents released by our church relating to history, in addition to other documents that have been floating around for years, that are ‘unflattering’ to some historical church leaders. The same unflattering kind of documents are to be found regarding the founding fathers of our country as well as almost any historical figure of any significance. Are these documents and testimonies completely accurate? From my recent experience regarding my own history, as retold by my friends, I would doubt it. And these are friends, not my detractors. I can’t imagine what others might write or say!

We need to be ‘well-read’ but not ‘well-lead’ by written statements that may or may not be accurate. We seem to be willing to readily accept bad things that people write about others without question, while easily dismissing all the good things that are also written.

I hope that when it comes to something as important as our faith in Christ, our faith in the leaders of the church, or our faith in the existence of God; we will not be too hasty in embracing things written by man, whose memories are clearly fallible and are sometimes laced with intent to harm or who have motives unknown.

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