Cross Rhythms website editor Heather Bellamy is a regular contributor for the local Sentinel newspaper's weekly faith column, Yours Faithfully. Each week a different leader from the local faith communities write the column. Check out what Heather has been saying to the fine people of North Staffordshire.
As a teenager my relationship with my parents was a turbulent one; my Mum and I especially, had a painful relationship. I think it would be fair to say that we both had our fair share of scars and wounds from 4 hard years.
As my life began to turn around at 20, and God began to heal the pain in my heart from those years, some words from a song called 'Broken Things' by Julie Miller really spoke to me.
You can have my heart,
If you don't mind broken things.
You can have my life if you don't mind these tears.
Well I heard that you make old things new,
So I give these pieces all to you.
If you want it you can have my heart.
So beyond repair,
Nothing I could do,
I tried to fix it myself,
But it was only worse when I got through.
13 years ago, as my parents and I began to emerge from the car wreck of our relationship, we may have been tempted by a new drug that scientists this week suggested could be developed: 'a memory-cleansing drug that has the ability to remove any recollection of unhappy or embarrassing incidents'.
Whenever we're hurt, it is very hard to forget the injustice and pain and move on. Some people cut the perpetrator out of their lives in an attempt to ease the pain, others turn to drugs and alcohol to deaden themselves; still others retaliate and seek vengeance and their own justice to make themselves feel better; but Julie's insightful lyrics really sum up the results of these approaches: 'I tried to fix it myself, but it was only worse when I got through.'
So would a 'super memory fixing drug' really be any better?
Certainly erasing memories isn't something to be taken lightly. Feedback on the BBC website from those who have suffered various forms of amnesia, show that the sufferers use words like: 'accepting his loss of memory was very traumatic', 'this continued for 15 frightening years', 'initially it was quite disturbing.' Traumatic, frightening and disturbing don't sound like the sort of emotional side effects I'd want to live with if I decided to get rid of some memories.
Another fundamental side effect I can see to using this drug is the loss of the opportunity for restored relationships. I had a picnic with my Dad a few years ago at which I apologised for some things in my teenage years. I gave him a ring to signify my heart change, a covenant ring, meaning I wouldn't break relationship again. There have been many such moments with my parents over the last 13 years, all of which have contributed to a relationship being redeemed. If in those moments, when I needed to seek forgiveness, redemption and restoration, they simply stared blankly and said 'I don't remember, I have no idea what you're talking about', much more would be lost instead of recovered.
Nelson Mandela summed this up when on leaving office in 1999 he said, 'South Africans must recall the terrible past so that we can deal with it, forgiving where forgiveness is necessary but never forgetting.' In responding to the painful memories of a nation I don't think he would have handed out pills to those who suffered under apartheid.
At the heart of the Christian faith is redemption and forgiveness. Although a tough choice it's the act of giving or seeking true forgiveness which helps to bring internal peace, relational restoration and freedom from the emotions attached to painful memories.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.