What Do You Remember?

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April 19th will mark 21 years since the Oklahoma City bombing. On that day in 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed by a truck full of explosives. The blast not only devastated or damaged up to 300 surrounding buildings, but also left dead 168 persons, 19 of which were young children and injured 650 others. This photo shows part of the memorial which I was privileged enough to visit – a truly heart wrenching experience.

This year we will also remember 15 years since the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Two planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

It is interesting how we humans remember events in our lives. If I asked you. “Where were you when the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 happened?” I am sure most of you could remember. We tend to remember events that cause some stress whether positive or negative. Apparently music connected to happenings also helps our brains to be able to process memories.

I have memories of those two days, but more vivid are memories from my years of drinking. I remember putting three kids on the back seat of my car and the next memory was pulling up in front of where my wife worked. I drove about 20 minutes through rush hour traffic in a fair-sized city and I do not remember any of it. Later I talked with my children who reported that I stopped at all the correct lights, changed radio stations and yelled at other drivers as usual. Not such a good memory.

I remember drinking during the day when I was supposed to take care of the children and instead falling asleep on the couch. One time they covered me with glitter while I was sleeping and when I woke up one of them said I looked like a disco elephant. (Yes, you can tell the era in which I drank) Humorous? Maybe but laced with sadness too. At that time I really thought I was doing a good job caring for the kids.

I remember a Christmas with a tree made out of green painted tubes and a lack of gifts for the kids. And in my mind I see those young faces fully trying to trust the words that God gave us what we needed this year for Christmas. I remember these things and Satan is still knocking at the door of my heart with an accusing voice.

I also remember a late afternoon when my wife came home from work and quoted those all too familiar words,” You’ve been drinking.” She had repeated them so often that I often heard them much like, “The sun is out.” I was ready with my usual denial; but surprisingly, for me, what came out was, “Yes, but I will not drink again;” to which my wife replied,”I want to believe you, John, but I can’t.”

The next day, I did not drink, or the next, or the next, and now for a good number of years. God took away the desire, which I am guessing he wanted to do for a long time, I just fought so hard to keep him away. I know it was God and nothing in me. As it is written in Philippians 2:13 –For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Memories. Oklahoma City and 9/11 both come with terrible memories. Some would like to forget those events ever happened. I know the quote by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I know I will not forget those events.

I also know I will remember both the days of my drinking, the first day of recovery and the days that follow. Such a conflicting series of events; but all a part of God’s plan for me and my family. Some days I have wondered why God did not simply allow us to get to the “good” days without having to go through the active alcoholism part. Well, I check my email and messages every day but no answer yet. That’s okay though because somehow he is still working in me to fulfill his good purpose. Thanks for that, God.

Hope you come back. I will wait you.

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