be a blessing

We live in a fallen world.

And sometimes bad things happen.
Sometimes there are stories that are more nightmare than goodness, 
                               more horror than love, 
                                                                  more hatred than kindness.
Sometimes a story turns gut-wrenching. These are the stories that haunt. If we let them, they can hold us back, pin us down, and keep us from a life well-lived.
Sometimes there are parts of our stories that we need to forget. As much of a believer as I am in story, it might come as a surprise that I also believe in forgetting.
It’s not forgetting like locking it in a box and letting is mold and fester and grow ugly. Rather it is choosing to let it go and blow it away. Our stories are as much about what we let go of as they are what we hold on to.
It’s about choosing to survive. It’s about choosing to live. It’s about choosing to be a blessing.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to forget. Often in order to forget we have to look heartache and hurt and horror in the eyes. We have to walk right up to it and face it. We have to work it through our brains before we can heal.
But at some point, we forget.
As a mom to children who have some tough stories, it’s hard to know what stories I should keep for them and what stories I should let go. How do I know what matters and what can be forgotten? They aren’t my stories. And yet, I am responsible for holding their stories. They are wrapped so tightly around my own. Sometimes their stories suffocate my heart.  Sometimes their stories slash my core. Sometimes their stories tear holes through me.
There is no way to make it right. And so they must heal. I pray this for my children who had to live without me for too many years:

Help them to forget what happened before and only remember what they need in order to know God is big and they are precious.

Yes, I pray for them to forget.

Because by forgetting, they will see how The Father protected them until they came home to their earthly parents. They will know how big God is because he can take the nightmare and turn it into goodness for his purpose.

Because by forgetting they will know they are precious. They were plucked off the trail of hardship and given a life overflowing with blessings.

Because by forgetting they quit being victims of unfortunate events and they become survivors.

I look into the eyes of my strong-willed, confident, sweet, zany, kind, loving children and I see an answered prayer. I see hope and strength. Mostly, though, I know if they can overcome the hard part of their stories I can too.

We are survivors. Why survive?

To make the world better for others. We do this by sharing our stories and forgetting the parts we don’t need any longer.

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19 Comments »

  1. This spoke loudly to me today. I am in a process of figuring out what to let go and what to hold. I could see the trail you spoke of and liked the imagery in this statement:
    “They were plucked off the trail of hardship and given a life overflowing with blessings.”
    A comforting thought and wise words you left us with today. Thank you.

  2. I am not surprised this post came to be…I've heard in in your words and seen it in your actions for a long time. Well done taking a difficult thread and pulling us gently along its length to see it all stretched out.

  3. Ruth– this piece made me weep. Love your prayer.

    Help them to forget what happened before and only remember what they need in order to know God is big and they are precious.

    My boys have struggled and struggled and struggled the past couple of years, and I have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed that they would know, from the very depths of their being, how very loved they are by me and by God (Ephesians 3:17-20). I know God has big plans for them, but I also know that at some point they have to let go of what lies behind and push forward toward what lies ahead.

  4. Ruth, this is an amazing post. Such powerful word choice. Your voice and emotion are poured into every line. I'm so thankful right now that those children have you for a mom.

  5. Thank you for sharing something so real and tender, Ruth! I am reminded of a quote Ralph Fletcher shared with us at the Dublin Literacy Conference in Feb. He's referring to someone dying, but I'd say hard times and memories would apply as well.

    Ralph Fletcher
    “When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later one. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There's really no way around it.”

  6. Wow. Stories that need to be forgotten. I think I was chanelling you when I wrote my poem this morning. My nieces have stories they need to let go off and I guess I never thought of it as my families job to help them do that. You have given me much to think about. Thank you Ruth.

  7. You are on the right path. You have embraced these children and will guide them with love and wisdom that comes from your heart and from God. They will be all right…

  8. Although I don't know you Ruth, reading your slice today filled me we sadness but also such strength… good for you for choosing to survive…

  9. Wow. So powerful. As an adult, without children, I have things that I would do well to forget… the gruesome details of three separate friend's deaths before they hit their 30s; the cases that I worked on when I was employed by Child Protective Services. I have always prayed for those children, but I have never thought to pray the same prayer for adults… that instead of faith, strength, and the grace to keep going, maybe the ability to forget is OK, too! Thanks for such wise words. I will revisit them until I have embraced the opportunities to let go and forget what I know longer need. Blessings.

  10. Oh, how I needed to hear this. I have been working through some deep woundings that have led to some deep bitterness. I need to pray to foroget.

  11. Thank you for sharing such a compassionate story. I pray your children are blessed with being able to forget the bad and move forward with positive outlooks on life. I am sure it is difficult at times. You are an amazing person for changing the lives of your children and doing it strictly out of love.

  12. Ruth,
    Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your thoughts with us. I cannot imagine what you're going through. I'm so glad that your children have you as a mother. You are loving, kind, encouraging, and sensitive to their needs.
    Jennifer

  13. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. The balance between remembering and forgetting is one I often consider. I wish we could find a way to remember, accept, and move on… but that can be challenging – even as adults.

    Helping your children by holding their stories close to your heart is beautiful.

  14. Your tenderness, love, and faithfulness will create stories for your children to grow, learn, and abound. Your words molded a tension you are working through. I like this line: Because by forgetting they quit being victims of unfortunate events and they become survivors. In my case, she's become an advocate through God's grace and power. Thank you for sharing and know you are dear to my heart.