When You Doubt Your Memories
—Grace & Truth Linkup

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When You Doubt Your Memories

Am I Remembering Wrong?

Flustered, I sat fidgeting on my couch. The doubts were flooding in.

Did I or did I not?

Someone was questioning a specific incident in our mutual past. So I began questioning it, too.

Maybe it wasn’t like I had remembered?

As my memory wobbled, I wished it was instead like an airplane black box, the flight recorders that objectively document the history of a flight (they’re no longer black, btw, but bright orange).

Black boxes keep track of cockpit conversations, instrument warnings, engine sounds, etc. While not 100% perfect, they are reliable enough to record and preserve valuable information in the present for someone to use in the future.

Human memories, however, are undependable. They are fickle. They change over time. And they often skew disproportionately in our own favor.

What Really Happened

For better or worse, we have no instant replays for our lives. We can’t see backwards in perfect detail.

Despite the funny yet cringey Progressive Insurance commercials, we can’t throw a challenge flag and watch a replay of what really happened when we disagree over memories.

Watch this commercial on instant replays. Can you relate, too?

Video - Life Jackets Replay

Absent my own instant replay machine, I couldn’t trace down the specific incident in question. But I did what I could that afternoon at home to confirm my overall memories.

  • I opened my email and searched through past conversations.
  • I moved to the bedroom and dug through a box of old cards.
  • I pulled scrapbook after scrapbook off the office bookshelves for more documentation.

Bit by bit, page by page, I felt comforted. Maybe my memories weren’t flawless, but they were still sound.

Outside evidence provided enough proof for me about the past in general. I could begin trusting my gut again. The reminders showed me wonderful times, even amidst hard days.  

Love and joy and God were indeed present then. I don’t have to doubt it now.

Even if I can’t remember the exact details.

Do you ever question your memories, too? What are your reminders? Share in the comments

Grace & Truth Featured Post

Our featured post this week is from Carlie. Looking back at old homeschool yearbooks, she was reminded of God’s unwavering presence in her life. She encourages us, too, to take time to remember God’s work in our lives.

Read all of Carlie’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Why a Homeschool Yearbook Is Good for My Soul

Thanks for sharing, Carlie. Here’s a button for your blog.

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Review the rules here about adding your most recent Christian Living posts and how to be the Featured Post. Visit all four hosts social media here or websites here: Maree Dee, Lisa notes, Lauren Sparks, Tammy Kennington.

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14 thoughts on “When You Doubt Your Memories
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Great video clip on this subject. I think the challenge for us with memories is that none of our memories are like videotapes. They are affected by so many things when they get put in the memory bank – tiredness, emotional mood, context, etc. – research shows they are influenced by many things when we put them in storage automatically. Evidence helps sort that out for us (like it did for you) but often doesn’t tell us what influenced the other person’s memory. I am reminded we see faulty remembrances a lot throughout scripture so I think it is one of those things common to man that can be like a pebble in our shoe as it plagues us with uncertainty. For Israel their longing to go back to Egypt is just one example after God had rescued them. Our memories are precious and valuable indeed but always subject to the subjectivity that was affecting us when they were made.

  2. Donna B Reidland

    We do tend to remember things from our own perspective and that tends to put us in the best possible light when it comes to challenging situations. But I can relate to your story. There have been times when one of our kids will say something about some childhood experience and I’ll think that’s not at all what happened. Sometimes I’ll even ask my husband how he remembers it.

  3. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    I once had a dear friend who said there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth (what really happened). Because we all filter through our own lens, we often experience “the same thing” very differently. That has hit home many times since my daughters have grown and shared what their lenses took in. Sometimes it’s been funny; other times their words brought heartache. There are things we all remember “sideways”, so I’m trying to learn to not always correct a memory but to embrace the God-given opportunities to find a path to making new ones.

  4. Carlie

    ‘Wonderful times, even amidst hard days’ – Yes! That’s the gift of remembering and the stamp of God’s faithfulness in our lives. I’m so thankful! Thanks, Lisa for relating to my story and featuring my post today.

  5. Donna

    Yes, Lisa, we can have a slightly edited version of the past resting in our memory. We do remember through a perspective, that over time becomes dim. But I love how you didn’t allow doubt to drive you to be “right”, but simply to understand better what really happened.
    And a big YES, to good times were there among the hard times, that’s so true, and sweeter when we can look back accepting that truth.
    (But there are definitely times I wish I could throw the challenge flag!!!)

  6. Lois Flowes

    Lisa, I’m glad you were able to do some research and settle your heart about the memories in question. I love what Susan said in her comment about there being three sides to every story. I’ve seen the frustration that results when someone sticks to their version of events and refuses to budge, so I try to always leave room for the possibility of remembering something wrong. That said, just recently my sister and I remembered something differently and I was able to convince her that my version was correct. 😂

  7. Lynn

    I like how you document, Lisa! When I ponder this, I know it is a daily, even a multiple daily occurrence of questioning what was said, happened, or decided upon. In my work life, every one has different spin on an event, I find! Thankfully, a lot of times the full details really don’t matter, just the direction we move toward (the whole point of the conversation). This reminds me of a saying: Would you rather be right or happy. 🙂

  8. Bev

    Wonderful post. I worry too about remembering – was that what really happened? Or, the worst, did that happen? Why can’t I remember.

    Just finished reading an amazing book by Patti Callahan Henry – The Favorite Daughter, which focused on memory and what it means to us and our ives.

  9. BettieG

    Dear Lisa, I love the timing of our good Father. For your thoughts on remembrance to be shared here is such a sweet confirmation to me as my book on remembering was just published this week. Thank you for blessing my heart. May you be so blessed this week!

  10. Lisa Blair

    Many memories have emotions attached to them, but I’m so thankful for this reminder, Lisa, “The reminders showed me wonderful times, even amidst hard days. Love and joy and God were indeed present then. I don’t have to doubt it now.”

  11. Tammy L Kennington

    Memory seems a bit like aging glass. Bending and morphing, mental images shift and change according to the angle from which they’re viewed–and by whom. Sometimes, the frame in which the glass sits becomes damaged and distorts or shatters the memories.–at least in my experience.

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