Sorting away the Bad, the Good and the Ugly

“Pick me up,” my grandson says.

He reaches little arms high, and his mommy leans down, puts her hands against his solid tiny body. Her brown hair swings forward and covers the smile I know is there. With a heave, she swings him into her arms.

He not much more than a baby, but he knows the comfort of one who loves. He lays his blonde head against her chest, snuggles and squeezes his arms against his mommy.

As happens with a new stage of life around the corner, some of our packing up of boxes has much more to do with putting away pieces of our lives into neat little categories of memories and experiences.

We remember. We grieve losses. We replay joys. We marvel at God’s faithfulness. We discard and throw. We hold and we cherish, but memories sometimes bring sadness too.

I find myself in this process of transition mucking through past painful experiences alongside the good, things long under the bridge, virtually forgotten. But I find as I dust off and and fold away, there is still some nasty run-off, know what I mean?

He carried me on His shoulders through so many experiences. When the river ran too high and the silt sucked me under, He lifted me as a Shepherd does with a lamb not quite making it on its own. At times I felt so very carried, at others drowning in the refuse of trial.

Now, some of the memories I pack away remind me of things that happened, and my thoughts swirl to what should have been but wasn’t, hurts from others and painful residue. Memories scrape at scabs I thought had healed. I’m surprised to find wounds still tender, forgivenesses less forgiven. In a way it’s like putting on rubber boots and sloughing through stuff all over again, turning back through the ugly gully of muck another time. Or wallowing in a putrid pig pen of bitter regret.

But here too I find the Lord is my Shepherd. When I pivot back and retrace, He is gracious to carry me again, to redeem griefs of my soul and pour oil on thorn pricked wounds. I find He reaches down another time and lifts me again. He carries me in His arms. He reminds me of the green pasture beyond shadowed valleys.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)

  • He provides
  • He leads
  • He restores
  • He shepherds

And in the wake of memories of the past and the wave of future unknowns, He raises this lamb and walks where I am too weak to re-tread. He scoops me high where I can lean against Him and listen to His heartbeat.

“I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Ps. 23:4 (ESV)

David, the shepherd wrote this Psalm. He knew shepherding. He did leading. He faced enemies and understood ruined dreams. He knew well God’s silence as well as God’s miraculous answers. Yet, He found the Shepherd of his soul always present. In unforeseen valleys, or in the memory of past valleys, the Shepherd comforts. He encourages the head that searches to lean on His chest and arms which must hold tight.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord. Forever.   Psalm 23:6 (ESV)

And with the grace He imparts, I don’t live in the muck-yuck as long as I once did. I recognize the state of my muddy feet sooner. I am learning as I travel to wait in silence until He picks me up again, and together we journey to the other side.

17 Replies

  1. Marilyn Nutter Reply

    Beautiful Sylvia- planned, unforeseen, or messy- He is there and He comforts.

    • Sylvia A Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Marilyn. He is there. He comforts. Appreciate you reading and responding!!

  2. Ellen Thompson Reply

    Your book sounds good.

  3. J.D. Wininger Reply

    When an old wound surfaces, I always try to remind myself that it is exactly that. An old wound; one that is healed over. The valley I traveled was filled with pain, and painful memories sometimes, but God helped me through the valley. As I revisit it now, it’s from the other side. Just as He promises, He was with me through the journey. God’s blessings my friend. Sometimes putting away the old memories again is almost as difficult as the struggle that led to the memory isn’t it?

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yes, J.D. Sometimes putting away is almost as painful, but sweet as well. Greatful that Jesus carries both. Thank you J.D. I do not know how you keep up with all the blogs and comments you read and give, but I certainly appreciate the attention you give to mine. You are such an encourager.

  4. Marilyn Krehbiel Reply

    Oh, Dear Syl, How I so relate!!! This week has been our 48th Ann. GOD is FAITHFUL!!!! I have & will continue to pray earnestly as you all go through this transition. May you experience God’s Sufficient Grace in new ways you could never imagine!!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Marilyn. That truly means a lot to me. Blessings on you and your hubby.

  5. Kathy Reply

    It sounds like you’re going through a difficult transition that is bringing up good and not so good memories. What a blessing to know our Shepherd is with us through all those memories!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Transition is never super easy for me, but you are right the memories are good and some difficult. I am so grateful for the Shepherd who carries us through them both! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. Katherine Pasour Reply

    When we travel through the valley of grief and sorrow, I’ve found it to be a combination of happy and painful memories. Granting forgiveness to someone who hurt us in the past is essential, but that doesn’t make it easy. Thank you for this inspiring message.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katherine. It’s strange how happy and painful can dwell together, but they do sometimes. It’s a good description. Thank you for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Sally Reply

    Love this! Love your reflections!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Sally. I appreciate you reading it and responding!

  8. Carolyn Reply

    Muck-yuck…great expression. And thank you…I find I do not forget the m-y and am so thankful that God can take the “ouch” out of the memories that would otherwise just build up bitterness.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you dear friend. And you will be one of the hardest gifts to leave behind. Appreciate the read and comment!