“Grandpa, what was the war like?”
“Well son, it was a little bit of hell, a little bit of fun, a little bit of excitement, a little boring at times; it was a little of everything – just like life.”
This answer sticks with us to this day, because our lives turned out to be one battle after another. We had to learn how to fight and keep on fighting, how to win, how to rejoice and be thankful – and then how to do it all over again. (From the opening of Losing Big, by Danny & Darci Cahill)
Remembering is important
Memories are powerful tools. They can help us avoid pain, allow us to succeed at tasks, and keep us on track. They also have another purpose: remembering the sacrifice of others. On this Memorial Day, I reflected about what might have happened had the greatest generation not sacrificed so greatly.
I didn’t have much of a relationship with my Grandpa Charlie. He suffered from alcoholism and I rarely saw him. Because of this, many memories of him aren’t great. But I remember one Christmas when he was there. I was looking at the Nazi bayonet he’d brought back from World War II and asked him, “Grandpa, what was the war like?” And I got a great gift in his answer. However, it took me years to understand it.
Now on Memorial Day I remember what my grandpa did during World War II. I choose to remember him as a hero and not for the mistakes he made. Perhaps we should choose to do that more with the people in our lives – especially ourselves.
Monuments of Memorial
When our son David was eight, he was hospitalized with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. If you don’t know what that is, I pray you never have to find out. In late stages the death rate is high. We were unsure of his future, and also unsure of what he’d face if he survived. He was misdiagnosed until an infectious disease specialist walked in, looked at him, and immediately knew what it was. He had recently treated the only other known case in Tulsa a year before. David wasn’t out of the woods, but with that diagnosis he had a chance! Today he is perfectly normal! When I need to know that we’ll make it through, I remember what God did for David – He’s a monument of memorial.
A Marriage Monument
Sometimes it can seem all is lost when we find ourselves in seemingly hopeless situations. When Darci and I wrote Losing Big, we weren’t sure what to expect, but the process of reliving those pain and victories in our past became a memorial of what God has done in our lives. We are still fighting that war called life. And in those moments of hopelessness, we need to remember how God rescued us and helped us overcome.
In Losing Big, Darci and I tell the story of our marriage, 6-months in. When we were ready to give up, God intervened. It happened the morning after a horrible night. While lying in bed, we were staring at the ceiling feeling hopeless when I said, “Something’s got to change.”
Darci paused. Then she replied, “I want to go back to church.”
Darci threw in the towel – not for our marriage – but for trying to do it alone. She knew in her heart that although it seemed impossible, with God all things are possible! (Matt 19:26) With that single decision, our marriage was set on a course for success. Was it easy? No. But we had a solid foundation to place everything on. Even when we didn’t trust each other at times, we could choose to trust God. And that was enough. We slowly began to see each other how God saw us – fearfully and wonderfully made.
Build a Monument of Memorial so you won’t forget
In Joshua 3, God stopped the flow of the Jordan River to allow the nation of Israel to cross. He then instructed them to bring 12 stones from its bottom to the shore. Here’s what happened next: (Joshua 4:6-7) “We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
So that we don’t forget, we celebrate Memorial Day each year to honor the fallen of our country. It is because of their sacrifice that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Everyday life can make us forget, so we need a Memorial Day to remember.
Make yourself a Monument of Memorial
In typical The Journey Training fashion, I’d like to ask you to do something. Take a piece of paper and write a few incredible things God has done for you in your life. Then find something to represent and memorialize those events. I use a polished stone for David, a 1944 Dime for my grandpa, and a list of 10 beautiful things I keep on my phone for Darci. When I need hope, I pull them out. The stone for my son – that God will make all things work together for our good. The dime for my grandpa, that there is a calling on our life no matter what mistakes we make. And the list for my wife – that God has given me the perfect wife, even when shallow vision may think otherwise.
These memorials help me through those tough times – those times when it seems there is no hope. And with them I remember that there is always hope.