The other week I watched an interview that Diane Sawyer had with Jill Price in 2008. She has written a most intriguing book titled The Woman Who Can’t Forget.
Pick a date, any date, after February 5, 1980. Jill price can tell you what day of the week it was, what she did that day, and any major event that took place. She can even tell you what the weather was like. She can relate the experiences she had with her accompanied emotions. For most of us, our problem is remembering. For Jill, it’s forgetting. She has a condition called hyperthymestic syndrome—automatic autobiographical recall of every day of her life from the age of fourteen on.
For the average person, autobiographical memory is highly selective. We tend to remember emotional experiences or significant events like our first kiss, a birth of our first child, or a risky adventure or a vacation we’ve gone on. Unfortunately, we also remember highly embarrassing moments—like when my mom made me wear high brown shoes to kindergarten, (I was so upset I walked home in the middle of the day) or the day I picked a fight with my neighbor and was soundly beaten (ouch!).
Studies suggest that just 3 percent of life events are highly memorable. So, over the course of an average year, approximately seventeen experiences will make it into our long-term memory. Most of life fades to black—the black hole called the subconscious.
But that is not true for Jill. Jill remembers everything!
In her memoir, Jill says,
Imagine being able to remember every fight you ever had with a friend; every time someone let you down; all the stupid mistakes you’ve ever made; the meanest, most harmful things you’ve ever said to people and those they’ve said to you. Then imagine not being able to push them out of your mind no matter what you tried. (page 47 from her book).
In many respects Jill is not alone. Many of us are consciously or subconsciously, prisoners of our past. Even if we’ve confessed our sin, we can still feel condemned. We can keep beating ourselves up. We can keep sabotaging ourselves. We can keep believing the self-defeating lies that come from the enemy which then become self-fulfilling prophecies. So how do we overcome these lies and become “more than conquerors through the One that loved us…” (Romans 8:37)?
Truth be told, many people are held hostage by their past. They can’t get on with their lives because they can’t get past the past. Instead of living in the here and now, they’re living back then and back there.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of defining ourselves by what we have done wrong instead of what Christ has accomplished for us through his death and resurrection. We dwell on our shortcomings instead rightly rejoicing in all the Lord has done for us and through us. (See Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Sadly, we can do the same things with others. We are quick to label people by what we see as their “chief sin”, and we mistakenly attach that sin as being the hallmark of their identity. Whether it’s an A for adultery, a D for divorce, a G for gay or A for Alcoholic or F for fraudulent.
Let me drill down a little on how we can become more than conquerors!
- REPENT OF AND CONFESS YOUR PAST SINS—CONSISTENTLY AND DAILY
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – 1 John 1:9 KJV
Forgiveness is instantaneous because of the cross (Ephesians 1:7), while conforming to Jesus’ character, thoughts, and ways requires a lifelong process (Luke 9:23). This process takes a Spirit-enabled commitment to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. The good news, however, is that little by little, change will take place. Through obedience, sometimes we can be well on our way to new redemptive behaviors in certain areas of life in no time at all!
- Jot down a few of your past sins that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. After doing this confess (agree with God about your responsibility for the sin) them and turn away from that activity or thought. Tear up the piece of pater and throw it away. Thank Him for His forgiveness based on what He did on the Cross for YOU!
2. TAKE INCREMENTAL STEPS WITH RIGHTEOUS BEHAVIORS
“… I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” – Acts 26:20 NIV
God is less concerned about how fast you are moving, and far more concerned about the direction you are moving.
- Make a list of behaviors you intend to practice consistently. Mark them off as you obey the Lord. Remember God is not looking for perfection… He is looking for progress.
3. RECOGNIZE AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD YOU ARE DOING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!
“I repeat then, let no one think that I am foolish; but even if you do, at least accept me as foolish, so that I too may boast a little.” –2 Corinthians 11:16 AMP
This next exhortation I want to encourage you in may seem unbiblical and hard for a sincere follower of Christ like yourself. However, please hear me out.
The Apostle Paul did not ever want to boast, nor did he boast about his own accomplishments. However, in 2 Corinthians 11:16 and following, he had enough of the so-called “super apostles” bragging about their credentials and accomplishments (based on lies) that he felt compelled to speak about his accomplishments, successes and struggles in ministry. So, he proceeds to list in verses 23-33 his accomplishments and credentials as a follower of our LORD Jesus Christ.
I actually think that many Christians suffer from a poor “Christ identity” because we have so emphasized our failures and God’s redemptive grace that we have not rejoiced, celebrated, or verbally recognized the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives!
It’s time we do just that:
- Please list five demonstrative acts of righteous obedience that you have done in the last month. Don’t be shy and please don’t resort to the old Christian cliché
- “Oh, I didn’t do anything good, it was all the LORD.” No, it was not. He used you, a willing and available vessel, to live His life through you (2 Corinthians 4:7-18 AMP). Please remember false-humility is a poor substitute for true humility.
We simply will not be conquerors if we only abstain from evil. We must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
After you have made your list, repeat the deeds you have done to the Lord out loud and give Him praise for using you! Then share your actions with another follower of Christ. Ask them to think about successful deeds they have accomplished and share them with you.
Back to Jill Price. Jill does not have the ability to turn off her memory. We serve a God who chooses to Forget! He is not forgetful, but he chooses to “remember our sin no more.”
“I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” – Isaiah 43:25 NLT
Oh, by the way—We do have a letter of identity after our name. It is an A! We are the APPLE OF HIS EYE! (Zechariah 2:8)