Relationships and Memories

Our brains have been created in such an incredible way. And within that incredibly intricate and complex part of your body are memories of every size, shape and experience. Memories can help us function more efficiently storing learned skills and many experiences. They help us make decisions as we internalize what experience has taught us–both positive and negative. And memories can be lost, at least supposedly, or buried. And scientists keep on researching and learning more about these processes all of the time.

Memories are critical, and they are certainly critical to our relationships. Good memories–good relationship. Bad memories–bad relationship. Have memories both good and bad? Ah, then it gets a bit tricky. Brain scientist say that our relationships are memory-mapped. What does that mean???

This means that actually all of our relationships are carried in our brain through memories. For example, you may have thousands of memories about your spouse, or your parents, or your friends, and those all contribute to your relationship with them. If you recall some of those good memories, it will light up those relational circuits so that you can connect with someone in the present. (Check out the blog “Brain Science” if you haven’t read it already.) Even if you do not consciously bring up good memories, they are working in the background and your right brain instinctively will give you good signals and your circuits will automatically be on. The right side is where our memories, relationships, experiences and emotions dwell. You could say it is the “colorful” side. It is the intuitive side, when we just “feel” something is right or wrong.

But, if you are in a recent memory when you had conflict, you will have trouble connecting with people. Your circuits are down! However, if you purposefully pull up some good memories, you will be able to move forward and connect with that person. Yes, you may still have to deal with the difficulties, but you are in a good place to begin communicating.

This is also true with our relationship with God. You will see people who, in their minds, only have bad memories about God—prayers not answered, hardships that they blame on God. So their relational circuits to God are blocked. But if we recall, think about, and call up positive memories with God, this will activate our neurological circuits and make it possible to connect with God in the present.

You will remember in the Bible how often God told His people to “remember”. Remember the good things He had done for them. Remember the miracles He did. Remember how He delivered them. Remember His words. Remember Who He is. How critical it is in our relationship with God to focus on these things!

That is why it is so helpful for us to actually write down what God has done for us. How He has answered prayer. Or something unexpected that you know was the hand of God. Sometimes in the pressures of life these positive memories of what God has done in our lives get pushed down under emotions and stresses, so we need to make a practice of renewing them in our minds.

So, if we have positive memories that include an experience of God’s presence, then using these positive memories to stir up appreciation will help us be effective in preparing our brains to connect with God. Or even if we cannot think of a memory where we felt a specific connection to God, we can use any positive memory. Even THINKING about being thankful will begin to make circuits light up! It is quite incredible!

I would challenge you to try writing down things you are thankful for every day. Those reinforce positive memories. Memories of goodness that you are taking the time to stir up and remember and savor. Even being aware of things you take for granted normally and being thankful for them, will change your attitude. And will even change your perception of the world around you–and your relationships.

The Bible repeats over and over the theme of “Give thanks” “Be thankful” “Overflow with thankfulness”. You might think God created us to dwell on the good and let gratefulness well up in our hearts! You might think that God wants us to be happy thinking of all the good things in life. You might think…. Do you?

And maybe you could even choose to go out and make some positive memories to enjoy! And even make a positive memory for someone else! How good is that??

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