Most people work hard to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and important milestones. They mark important dates on their calendar so that they will not forget to celebrate a special occasion. We work hard to memorialize important places and important days because we want to remember. However, there are some anniversaries that overwhelm me with pain. Those are anniversaries that I would prefer to forget.
Even as my mind desperately tries to distract me from the anniversary date of my trauma, my body overrules my mind and betrays me, demanding that I remember. Each year on that day, my body awakens from its dormant slumber. As the deep ache rages through me, every part of me, down to each individual cell, cries out in anguish.
It is as if a dark cloud hangs over my life, dampening my enthusiasm and soiling the earth beneath my feet. I do not consciously think about the events of that day, but my body recreates the emotions, forcing me to shed tears for the pieces of me that did not survive.
With each heartbeat, a new, painful, previously forgotten memory courses through my veins, until the very marrow of my bones is tainted with the dark hue of despair.
This remembering is not something that can be willed away. I can’t simply “think happy thoughts” and work my way out of it. This deep wound that I thought was healed is ripped open again as the impressions and feelings of that day consume me.
I am not sure why the body insists on remembering. Maybe the heartache and pain were so intense that the memories are forever imprinted in my DNA. Or perhaps the body is just too different from the mind. My brain has worked to quickly process the events of that day – to draw connections in a swirling tornado of chaos. The mind wants to tell a story – to weave the facts together so that there is meaning and purpose to the pain. The mind needs to understand – to explain – in order to survive.
The body is more primitive. The body doesn’t concern itself with the formation of a story. The body does not understand the mind’s desire for meaning in the chaos. Instead, the body only feels. Each year, like clockwork, the body is reawakened to its grief. The body does not ask to understand the greater purpose of its suffering because the body only knows loss. The body knows that a part of me died that day, and the body is not ready to let go. The body resents that loss, so it screams to the mind, “Remember!”
As we approach Christmas, the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we celebrate the joy of new life and salvation. We embrace the beauty of a miraculous birth, and we cling to the promises of redemption. It is not until Good Friday, months later, that we remember that his body was also broken. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, we are told a story about Jesus:
Having given thanks, he broke [the bread] and said,
This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
Jesus instructed his followers to not only remember his broken body, but to routinely break bread as a reminder of his brokenness. Were it not for his brokenness, we would not have redemption. As much as we want to forget the pain and the brokenness, we cannot find redemption without brokenness.
Perhaps my body grasps this truth even though my mind cannot – my brokenness must be remembered because my brokenness is shaping me. My body cannot help but cry out because sometimes, brokenness is how we remember. The brokenness is a part of me now, and I will remember.