Last week, I read something very interesting about memory that I want to share. I think that having this expanded understanding of memory is really going to help me extend a lot more grace and mercy in my relationships. Let me explain that further…
If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs personality inventory, I am an ISTJ. The “S” means that I prefer to focus on the basic information I take in (Sensing), rather than interpreting and adding meaning (iNtuiting). The “T” means that when making decisions, I prefer to first look at logic and consistency (Thinking), rather than first looking at the people and special circumstances (Feeling). The “J” means that in dealing with the outside world, I prefer to get things decided (Judging), rather than preferring to stay open to new information and options (Perceiving).
During the 1960s, neuropsychologists found that memories do not always remain unchanged. They could literally see that neural connections in the hippocampus of the brain could be changed each time those memories were brought into consciousness… any time an old (consolidated) memory is recalled, it may become open again to changes and additions so that the original memory actually changes. Of course, it can go through reconsolidation again and again changing some each time. In this view, memories are like files saved in a computer. They can be opened, read and, if they are changed, saved again in that changed form. The changes then become part of the document, and the original form is gone. The memory itself is different, and even the author does not have the original. Each time the memory is recalled, it may be changed a bit until the reconsolidated memory is quite different from the original one. Dr. Ron Koteskey on Memory
In our relationships, not only do we often approach life differently based on our personality types, but we also remember situations and encounters differently, and our memories of them will likely change over time. My personality makes me tend toward facts, logic, consistency, and coming to a decision. So I tend to think, “That’s not how I remember it…is this person lying to me?” or “this interaction doesn’t fit with what I know about their character – how can that be?” if we remember something differently. Keeping this information about reconsolidating memory in mind, I realize now I need to focus more on extending grace and mercy, giving the benefit of the doubt, and striving for peace and unity. I also may not be remembering the situation correctly myself.
I love that we have God’s Word to refer to time after time to know and understand what God wants to tell us about a particular subject. Remembering and meditating on God’s timeless truths helps guide and direct our steps, thoughts, and feelings.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:1-3, 32
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3:12-15
So I will always remind you of these things…I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15 NIV