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77 | What to do with a strange memory

77 | What to do with a strange memory

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Hi, my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I wonder: am the only person in the world who suddenly has flashbacks of things that happened to them decades ago.

Well it happened to me recently and involved an incident of something that took place probably 45 years ago.

It was the 1970s. I was in my twenties and driving an old Rambler station wagon. It was a dusty grey colour, probably 15 years old when I bought it. But along with my Toyota Previa, was the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned.

I was just saved and attending a young people’s Hippy church, a Jesus People church, where everyone had long hair, including the girls. Back then, I had hair past my shoulders and one of my friends had hair down to his waist.

And today, I have sadly resorted to shaving my head, because I am basically bald. It’s very sad.

Anyway, I had put a large “JESUS SAVES” bumper sticker on the back of my Rambler, just below the back window. The background was white, and the two words were emblazoned in large red capital letters.

On my dusty grey, and usually dirty Rambler, the bumper sticker stood out like a neon light.

I can’t remember exactly what I was doing, but I think I was visiting a friend in what was then our city’s hippie neighbourhood. When I returned to my car, I noticed that someone had ripped off the bumper sticker.

I was shocked, hurt, and angered by what had happened.

And now, over 45 years later, the memory of this incident was alive and flooding my mind.

Why was it there?

I wondered if God was trying to tell me something, because there are tens of thousands of things that happened to me when I was in my 20s and I probably couldn’t remember 99% of them even if you paid me.

But here was this incident flooding my mind.

Why was this happening?

Well, I have a theory.

I believe that decades old memories can be triggered if there is an emotion still attached to them, and it is this emotion still embedded in these memories that keeps them alive in our mind, and all they need is something to trigger them.

I was angry when that person ripped the bumper sticker off my car and the fact that I was still remembering this incident made me wonder if I had not dealt with my anger over this incident that took place over 45 years ago.

The emotional anger that I felt that day was still embedded in that memory.

So here is what I did.

First, I forgave the person who did this.

In Ephesians 4:26, the Apostle Paul writes, ‘Be angry and sin not.’ In other words, anger is a normal emotion, and it is not a sin to get angry. But then Paul adds, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

So, while getting angry is not a sin, staying angry is.

I had let the sun set well over 16,000 times on my bumper sticker rage.

So I forgave the person. I forgave the person to release the emotional baggage still embedded in that memory.

Then I did a second strange thing, I actually prayed for the individual. It’s possible the person is dead, but if he or she was my age, it is very possible they are still alive.

In Matthew 5, Jesus says pray for those who persecute and bless those who curse you. So that is what I did. Forty-five years later, I prayed for God to bless the person who ripped off that bumper sticker, and then prayed for their salvation.

If you are struggling with memories of past events, maybe it is an indicator you have unresolved emotional issues that you still need to deal with.

I am not saying this is the case, but this is how I dealt with my strange memory.

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