What memories do you have from going to school as a child? I assume most of us have some wonderful memories of school, while at the same time having some negative memories that still linger in our minds.
I vividly remember a time in fifth grade when I did not bring my “current event” assignment to school. On Friday’s we were to cut out a newspaper story and present it to our class. I got to class and had that ‘uh oh’ moment...I forgot! Luckily, my buddy, the over achiever, brought two newspaper articles to school that day. He was kind enough to share one with me. It worked perfectly and I got an A on the assignment.
However, there was an issue. My mom knew that it was current event day. She knew I didn’t cut out an article. So when I got home my mom asked, “So, how did your current event go?” I didn't think about how "all-knowing" she is, so I responded, “Great, I got a 100!” In her surprise she said, “How did that happen? I know you didn’t do it.” I told her that I had used my buddies article and it worked out great.
What came next was the memory-making part of this story that sticks with me as an adult. She said, “On Monday you will pull Mrs. Smith aside and you will tell her that you did not bring that article on your own, that you did not do your homework, and that you are sorry for deceiving her.” I spent the rest of that weekend sick to my stomach about the conversation I would have to have with Mrs. Smith.
Monday rolled around and I asked Mrs. Smith if we could talk in the hallway. I hysterically cried my way through a pathetic apology, but I did it. I apologized to an adult and acknowledge that I tried to deceive her. I learned an invaluable lesson that day that has formed a standard in my adult life.
It’s memories like this that can stick with us and may even drive our actions today. It’s pretty amazing that something that happened so long ago can cultivate current thoughts, beliefs, and values for how we interact in our world. Memories shape the soundtracks of our lives.
All through the Bible we see examples of the power of nostalgia. In the Old Testament, Israel's national identity originated in their exodus from Egypt. This event was so important that God instructed them to annually observe the Passover ceremony because He realized that a time would come when a generation would no longer remember the Exodus without a memory aide. The Passover ceremony was important because it was a reminder of God's faithfulness.
Practically, this created a great object lesson for parents to retell the story of God's faithfulness for generations. Wrapped up in Passover is a memory that has the power to give hope. What is interesting about nostalgia is that sometimes we are moved by the memories of others. Our generation never experienced first hand what it must have been like to fight in World War II, and yet, we have a deep appreciation and honor for those that served in that world changing war.
Similarly, God’s people were instructed to raise an ebeneezer, a stone of remembrance, in important locations where God helped His people. It was simply a physical marker to help them remember the important life-changing events. Seeing these stones would remind them of God’s faithfulness, and help them make decisions with God’s faithfulness in mind.
I believe as educators, we are in the business of creating memories. In the conscious and unconscious, the intentional and unintentional, we are creating memories in our students that will last a lifetime. I pray that as we parent and educate, we use every day circumstances to create memories that lead us to God and His Kingdom.