Voices of Faith: Experience, good and bad, makes us who we are

My last root canal went great! There was no pain nor even any discomfort. Or at least there was none that I can remember. My dentist prescribed two little blue pills. I took one 30 minutes before the procedure and one when I got there. And the wonderful result was complete amnesia for a procedure that I had every intention of forgetting anyway.

Medicine, however, is progressing beyond those 2 little blue pills. After some limited success with animals there is a possibility that drugs will one day be able to target specific memories. We might one day be able to go to a doctor and tell him which events happened in our past that we want removed from our minds and have him do it.

A terrible childhood? Erased. A really bad mistake? Forgotten. A traumatic accident? No longer a memory.

So here’s the question I proposed to a Bible class: Would you do it? Would you take a pill to forget the bad times in your life?

Our class had a unanimous opinion, something we don’t always have. We quickly reached a consensus. None of us wanted parts of our minds erased.

There were several major reasons.

The first is that our past experiences have shaped who are we. That includes our bad experiences as well as the good. The Bible says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). Our growth happens through our struggles.

And given that growth is necessary to allow us to become adults, how then are we to determine which parts of our past are the bad memories and which are the good? If science develops a pill that will get rid of my negative neurons, I’m not sure I have the wisdom to know which those are.

And surely as we make it past the terrible times in our life, we are then given the wisdom to help others who hurt. Again the Bible says that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (II Cor. 1:4). We’ve all experienced times when we had to tell someone we loved, “I don’t know what you’re feeling.” There are also times when we do know precisely what they’re going through because we went through the same thing ourselves. In those situations, we can be a real encouragement to others.

So I think I’ll hang on to my mind and my past, as best I can. A little blue pill so I don’t remember a root canal seems alright to me. But I want to learn and grow and I want to help others. And for that, I need the good times and the bad.

Rick Cupp is minister of the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway. Sunday Bible classes, 10 a.m.; Worship 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal and worship, 6:15 p.m.

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