Life is interesting in a number of ways. There are twists and turns that we never expect and yet we continue day by day as God provides each new day for us. I used to tell my kids, “today is one of the days of your life.” Sometimes we think that our real life, the one biographers will write about, will start sometime in the future. But today is one of those days. If there ever is to be a biography it may include the events of today.
This brings us to reflect on another interesting thing about life. The vast majority of our life is in the past and the future. There is only a small miniscule portion of life that represents the present moment. If you are reading this in the afternoon, your breakfast and all your morning activities are only memories. Nothing about them can be changed. Your evening activities are still only an anticipation. They don’t exist yet. They are not a reality yet.
This brings me to the theme of this article. We are writing especially to parents and grandparents. Since only the present moment exists and quickly turns into a memory, our opinion is that we should plan the present moment and future moments so that we personally, but especially so that our children and grandchildren will have the kind of memories we want them to have. We’re not speaking here of special memories such as a trip to a museum or amusement park. We’re referring to day-to-day memories of events and conversations in the normal course of life. Do you want them to remember a high priority on spiritual growth or remember that all you cared about was getting ahead and having fun? What they remember from their childhood is probably where they will put the priorities for living their lives and the training of their own children.
You only have one opportunity each moment to provide the memories. Once your children are out of your home, those memories are fixed and there is no way to go back and change them. So it seems to us that it’s important to think ahead. Now it’s impossible to plan perfectly and you can drive yourself crazy wondering if today’s memories will be the kind you want your kids to remember. However, it seems to us that very few people give this any thought at all. Deuteronomy 6 speaks of this concept: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6–9, NKJV).
Notice that the writer speaks of “teaching diligently”, talking about spiritual truth while you sit in the house, while you are out walking, at bedtime and first thing in the morning. He says we should have signs and symbols around the house that speak of the kind of life God wants us to be living. All of these things will provide memories of a pattern and atmosphere that permeated your home. Grandparents, you can do the same thing. When your grandchildren are with you, you can speak of things related to God, His creation, His wisdom, His faithfulness to you in the past, etc.
Many times our focus as parents and maybe especially grandparents is what stuff we can give to our children. Stuff wears out and breaks, but the memories our children and grandchildren take with them cannot be destroyed. That’s both a good and bad thing depending on what those memories are like.
As we go through life, it is impossible to do everything. There is not enough time to provide every opportunity and experience for our family. Therefore, we must pick and choose what we will do and what we will provide. The Bible says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent…” (Philippians 1:9–10, NKJV).
We are called upon to be discerning, to evaluate and then to approve the excellent. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NKJV).
God would have us evaluate everything and then approve and hold fast to what is good and excellent. We are to redeem the time (Colossians 4:5). The reason for these admonitions is because everything we do, we are to do for the glory of God. And since we cannot do everything there is to do, even among the things that aren’t sinful, we are to choose the best and wisest course every single day. In so doing, we will be providing our children and grandchildren with those experiences that will be worth remembering and will build them up in their faith.
So what kind of memories do you want your children or grandchildren to remember? Order or chaos? A quiet and calming environment or a loud and boisterous atmosphere. A soft answer that turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), or loud and angry correction (James 1:20)? Will you help your family seek first the kingdom of God so that all of the other things will be provided for them (Matthew 6:33)?
What kind of memories are you creating for yourself and your family? If you’ve been on the wrong course, you may not be able to repair the memories already there, but with God’s help you can change direction and begin providing new memories that will redound to the glory of God.