The rancor and ugliness of the letter still stings my memory, even though I received it decades ago. Its paragraphs dripped with hateful venom, the culmination of a relationship gone sour. For sure, the letter cut Evy and me to the heart. We each read it once, and then by God’s grace, stood over the wastebasket and tore the letter into dozens of pieces. We knew that if we didn’t, every time we’d pull the letter from the file, its venom would sting us all over again.
Today, many years later, what I remember of that letter is that it was caustic, hateful, and sarcastic, but I honestly can’t recall its details. “Remembering to forget” has been a choice I’ve made. It’s not that Satan hasn’t attempted to have me rehearse again and again the letter’s contents, but I’ve attempted to put into practice the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Christians at Philippi: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). In this passage, Paul’s instruction is set in the context of runners who keep their eyes intent on the goal and refuse to look back. The Apostle knew that nothing is more dangerous, than for foot race participants to glance behind. They’re certain to trip—to lose their stride—to lose speed—or possibly to lose courage. Paul began the “Christian race” after his dramatic conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus. At the time of his writing to the Philippians, a portion of his race had already been run, but he certainly had not reached the finish line. Thus Paul’s gaze was fixed intently on the part of the course yet before him.
Someone has aptly quipped, “There’s no future in the past!” Well said. So what is it that you need to “remember to forget”? What is it that draws your attention away from the “Prize” at the end of the race? Just as with the hateful, venomous letter I received decades ago, life’s race for all of us will go much better if we “remember to forget” some things.
—Paul W. Brubaker