On the Future & Why Your Memory Isn’t Trustworthy

by | Jan 14, 2014 | Encouragement

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I am as certain of some things as I am about the lines on my face. But on most days, I have more questions than answers.

As I reach down to get the curling iron from underneath the bathroom sink, His voice wisps through my thoughts and slows my pace a little. Some people call it premonition or coincidence but I name it love.

This trip to the pediatrician with my daughter isn’t about a flu test or a curious sore throat. The last time I drove her to a doctor’s appointment, she didn’t have a license in her wallet yet. I hesitated about making the appointment. A mother knows her child’s quirks like the smell of sour milk. But her father insisted. So we went.

Sometimes the vacant space of a forced rest in a doctor’s office – on a train commute, seated in the airport terminal, during a road trip – is an altar for relationship; a place for the overflow of life to spill out and become a love offering. That is what he was saying.

“I can’t remember the last time you had strep,” I said from the chair in the corner, my voice bouncing off the sterile walls of the empty room. My daughter’s legs dangling over the edge of the exam table, paper crinkling underneath her seat. Smiling, she recounted that awful season in her childhood.

First grade. It was the year of recurring strep infections. So many of them her pediatrician threatened to remove tonsils if she got one more within a month. Two months passed; an embarrassment of riches. We laugh every time we remember. And sober about the reality we lived through as the memory comes closer to the forefront.

“I don’t think I have strep,” she admitted. “It’s not as painful as I remember it being during those years when I had them so often. But maybe my memory isn’t accurate.”

“I know. Sometimes our memory distorts reality. Like the time I visited my childhood neighborhood and realized the wealthy homes I envisioned as monstrously large were actually average.”

“Yeah, like that time at our church before we lived here and I got separated from you and Dad,” she went on. “All I remember is how huge the campus seemed and how all I saw when I was frantically trying to find you was a sea of legs, like a forest of huge tree trunks.”

“I don’t remember that,” I chuckled with my hand cupped over my mouth.

Laughter made breathing more difficult through her stuffy nose. “Of course you don’t remember, you weren’t the one living it,” she scoffed.

The nurse walked in and we composed ourselves.

Memory is a curious bedfellow, a distorted mirror of thinking when using it for a magnifying glass to discern the future.

The same way you can walk on a familiar bed of dewy moss beside a riverbank without realizing there are snakes curled up beneath it.


In the third week of January, the resolve of a new year can take a U-turn, back to a blaze of circumstance beating down on your slate with delight written all over it. Hope drips like sweat from your forehead and pools at your feet.

On the precipice of routine, unexpected interruptions wave us back to spontaneity, patting the couch cushions next to them. And while you might be tempted to wipe your good intentions off the chalkboard, I’m reminding you He uses permanent ink. His promises cannot be erased.

“Negative,” said the nurse as she peeked around the door frame. “All your tests are negative so you have a virus that must run its course.”

“I thought so,” I said nodding to my daughter.

After we climbed back in the car, she began coaching me, asking questions about a subject she knows I’m struggling to resolve. And clarity came in an instant with the answers out of my mouth.

“Mom, maybe I stayed home today to help you find the answer.”

“Yes, honey, maybe so.”

Let the past guide you, not predetermine the future. He makes all things new.

May his voice interrupt your distorted thinking with certainty, as clear as the lines on your face.

In community with Michelle, Laura, Angie, Holley, Jennifer, Emily, Lyli.

Subscribe for Shelly’s stories and free resources here: https://shellymillerwriter.com/free-resources/


  1. June

    Great words, Shelly. God’s been showing me lately, nudging me toward an understanding… something I need to stop thinking about, knowing about, talking about and start putting into action. There is purpose, His purpose, in every moment of our lives. Nothing, no one is random or meaningless. Your daughter’s comment about her purpose to help you that day resonated with me. Thank you for sharing!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve been in the place you are describing June and it is wonderful the way God blesses your first steps into obedience, putting your faith into action. And I couldn’t agree more, nothing is meaningless in God’s economy. So glad you visited.

  2. Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    “Sometimes the vacant space of a forced rest in a doctor’s office
    – on a train commute, seated in the airport terminal, during a road
    trip – is an altar for relationship; a place for the overflow of life to
    spill out and become a love offering.”

    I love this line, Shelly. I too have found deeper connection with God and with my children at the pediatrician’s office, in the waiting. The other week I just sat silent with my son – stopped my nervous mommy-chatter aimed at easing his fear – so I sat and watched him absorbing everything in that room and felt the nearly imperceptible shift of his body toward mine when the dreaded Dr walked in.

    • Shelly Miller

      We had some of that clear space last night around the dinner table. I got a glimpse of God’s glory through the words of my children. It left me grateful and awestruck. Thanks for being here Kelly.

  3. Tresta Payne

    This line: May his voice interrupt your distorted thinking with certainty, as clear as the lines on your face.
    I was driving alone the other night and *hoping* I was having a conversation with the Lord. When I questioned if the things I was hearing were His voice or mine, I felt this question in return – “Does it line up with My Word? Then believe it, either way.” I am so prone to doubt and distorted thinking. He is so truthful.
    I love how you talked things out with your daughter, and how that brought clarity. Such a lesson for the both of you!

    • Shelly Miller

      Great exercise with yourself Tresta. I often ask myself if I could’ve come up with what I was thinking on my own. Most of the time, I realize my thoughts are not my own, but the voice of someone asking questions. I think you and I know who that someone is. He asked you one too.

  4. Karrilee Aggett

    I’m reminding you He uses permanent ink. His promises cannot be erased. <<— This! So Much Yes, my friend! Thank you for that!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you for the encouragement Karrilee. I appreciate your generosity in sharing my posts on Facebook. You are so sweet.

  5. DeanneMoore

    Sometimes the answer jumps from the depths when we are talking to someone else. So glad it was your girl. Hugs..

    • Shelly Miller

      That is so true Dea. It’s actually a coaching principle, to hear yourself respond because then you own the outcome. No one tells you how to think, and that’s easier to accept and act upon. Hugging you back.

  6. Natalie

    Permanent ink…promises that can’t and won’t be erased. In a world that feels more and more charred by pencil, I love the weight of those words. Thanks for those and the reminder that my memory is not as faithful as He is.

    • Shelly Miller

      I needed the reminder myself Natalie. Thanks for being here.

  7. Megan Willime

    Yes. Much disordered thinking.

  8. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Out of the mouth of babes. So glad that Murielle was there for you, Shelly, helping to guide you. Isn’t it so special when a daughter becomes a friend? That’s how I think of my Sheridan. May God continue to give you clarity through all your stuggles, and no distortions.
    Love you so much.

  9. Beth

    I loved those sweet words from your daughter. Thank you for this beautiful reminder… “… He uses permanent ink. His promises cannot be erased.”
    Much love,

  10. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, is that Persephonie’s and also a dress shop in London?

    • Shelly Miller

      It is Lynn, you have a good eye and keen discernment. Missing England this week. I looked through my photos.

  11. Lisa notes...

    What a sweet time with your daughter and the Lord. Love that your time was “an altar for relationships.” That’s beautiful. Praying she feels better soon!

  12. Mel

    Such a good reminder…I’m so thankful for those promises. Blessings to you…thanks for sharing your heart. 🙂 Happy Wednesday!

  13. Rebekah

    Sometimes memory distorts our reality. Thankful that He has etched our reality in the palm of His hand. Permanent ink. I see the colour red.
    Thank you, for this beautiful moment of clarity with your daughter, Shelly. {I’d be honoured to have you join in at Words of Life ;)}

  14. Alyssa Santos

    I am thankful, though that time blurs the edges of some memories. Especially pain. The times I suffered intense physical pain were so consuming that it would be impossible to continue to exist to live every day with that level of pain… and I remember it now and certainly don’t want to relive it, yet I am thankful it’s lost it’s tremendous power over me. I think that when we have past memories that we’re allowing to have daily, in the present, influence over our emotions now, we need to realize that we’re giving them permission to overpower us. We can remove ourselves from their influence, while still respecting their place in our journey. Does that make sense?

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, it does make sense Alyssa. Allowing the past to dictate today keeps us stuck. But if our past informs our journey we can learn from it. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I enjoyed the video testimony you shared today on FB. It’s powerful.

  15. Angie Ryg

    “His promises cannot be erased.” Now I see why I read this one today. A needed Truth in my daily right now mess of motherhood. This gives me encouragement and the freedom to know He will be the Voice that I can listen to ALWAYS. Thanks for linking up. XO

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