Experiencing-Self / Remembering-Self


In her book All Joy and No Fun: The paradox of modern parenthood, Jennifer Senior describes the ways children reshape the lives of their parents. Parents may not be having “fun” when they are restructuring their entire lives around raising children, but they are opening their lives to greater joy. Thus the paradox: are we our experiencing selves, the people that go through the sacrifices and the struggles, or our remembering selves, those who look back on these moments with warm connection in our hearts and have joy because of this shared experience?

In fact, we are both. But it can help us to weather the stress and sleeplessness to lean into a future orientation and purpose.

As a full-time parent and a full-time pastor, I have had so many experiences in which this language has benefitted me. The differentiation between my current experience, my experiencing self, and my future self who will think back to this moment, my remembering self, helps me maintain needed perspective in difficult seasons or circumstances.

What will I remember? The sleeplessness. The goodness of God. The complete exhaustion. The everyday miracles. The answers to prayer.

The daily mercies of pastoral ministry and parenthood are profound.

Watching kids struggle with sitting still and stepping out for a moment with dad.
Walking down from preaching to have tiny hands take hold of mine as a little voice whispers, “Good job, Mommy!”

It’s all a part of this life.

John 12:16 says,
“At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.”

Yes, the disciples were experiencing life with Jesus first-hand. But they weren’t able to take it in all at once. It was only later. It was only as they remembered these moments that it began to make sense, it started to take on new meaning.

As they remembered.

In John 14:26 Jesus himself reminds us we don’t have to worry or stress about trying to take it all in now. “The Holy Spirit will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit will come along as your guide and your friend, bringing truth to mind and making meaning of experiences you and I aren’t able to fully experience.

One of my repeat prayers is: “God, help me to be present to this moment, to show up fully to whatever You are doing right in front of me today.” I will continue to pray that prayer and seek to live grounded and present to the work of God. Yet, for all those times I feel pulled into the past or the future, or pulled in more directions than I can handle in the moment, it’s helpful to remember the promise of God to remind us of what we are needing to recall. To bring to memory the miracles we could miss.

I invite you to pause for a moment.
To look back in the recent past – yesterday, this past week, this past month – 
and to remember the ways you saw God working in your life.

Grace to you, dear friends.