Many have responded to the “Memory” blog. The personal situations are unnamed, but it means much to hear from other “takes” on memory and why it is important to look closer to the start of a relationship than to its end…or anticipated end.
In the mix that, and he said “Mark, it’s your call,” whether or not I use his name. There is NO WAY I cannot use his name! He’s that wise. And personally, that important.
An example of his friendship that just jumped in. My friend is brilliant to equal his wisdom with matters of competent leadership. With that, because so many clergy have their leadership mantle stored away upon retirement I asked my friend to lead a 24 hour retreat on “How Can Clergy Retirement be Valued?”
We had about 20 attend, a good registration. With me on that was Jim Tomasek, who was my predecessor as Conference Minister in Austin. Jim, God rest his soul, was a terrific predecessor, always willing to listen and never call with admonishment. Not that mistakes were absent, but I could go to him and explain my situation, ask for some history. He ALWAYS understood about Conference Ministry and never ever told me what to do. He spoke with wisdom and responded with grace.
In the middle of one of Mike’s presentations—that often invited dialogue—a retired minister jumped to his feet, never asked for the floor or a pardon from my friend, and in front of everyone made it clear, with one hand clenched and the other pointing at me, “YOU! You are a hopeless leader in our conference. You don’t have the slightest idea of how to do things. You are a major….”
I didn’t respond, because Reverend Fury would not have responded, short of more table pounding. In that moment, two things happened. My friend looked at the irate minister and said, “We obviously have some visiting to do…I’ll be happy to help.” That was a great quell-moment. Then Jim leaned over to me and whispered with a smile, “Ah, Mark, welcome to the club. He said almost the same exact thing to me five years ago.”
Ah, a long preface to my friend. But the reason I shared that memory, I would never bring it up if the furious person were in my company. Nope. Because it wasn’t worth it. That’s called how the present day can mute the probing memory.
Now to my friend and his remarks. My friend, as many of you have probably already figured, is Mike Murray. Mike is as treasured a friend as I’ve ever been gifted. He’s an ordained Presbyterian minister, has been a consultant for businesses and denominations [for over 40 years and across the world.] I’m so pleased that when I asked him which state he had yet to consult in, he smiled, “Montana.” So happened their Conference Minister was in Montana. So. Pleased to share: number 50 checked off!
Mike wrote the following…such a wise “take” on memory…so, with his permission I share…it was triggered by the Jane Stanford quote
A great quote from Jane Stanford! [For reference, her quote is on the July 11, 2017 blog, “How’s Your Memory”]
And, one other observation: memories can be horrible burdens, at least
in my case. As I review 80 years + (when one is 80 you don’t spend a great
deal of time dreaming about future possibilities) it is easy for me to find
regrets, remorse, even shame from all kinds of things. I used to handle this
with “Did the best I could” or “It could have been worse” or some other form
of rationalization, explain-away, self-justification.
Then, one day, it occurred to me, that I did not need to run away from memory;
indeed, it was possible to welcome those dark, uncomfortable thoughts.
How and why? Because they could become one more “trigger” for the
Good News that it was not my righteousness that made me whole, it is
grace. That is: so-called “negative” memories are stimuli for the praise that
we are saved by grace, not by the goodness (or best efforts) of our own
So, when those unbidden memories involving incompetence, or failure,
or even immorality come, they can be welcomed IF one allows them to
be springboards to Gospel. And, they become means for responding to
the first question in the Catechism: Humanity’s chief purpose is to glorify
God and glorify God forever. Sin (and shortfalls and missing the mark) can help
you do that!
Actually, Paul wrestled with this question in Romans 6:1. His answer to
this, to give a very rough paraphrase was, NO, you don’t need to sin all the
more than grace may abound! But, sin can be a marvelous reminder that you are
saved by grace. Thanks be to God.
Thanks for listening. Mike M.