• Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC

The Power of Memory



“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19 (NIV)


I believe one of the best gifts God gave us as human beings is the power of memory. There truly is nothing like it. Right now I can close my eyes and instantly be transported to the tenderest moments of love or the most excruciating depths of pain. Both of which I believe are essential memories to sustain us as we journey through this life.

I remember so clearly the afternoon I scooped my son, Cody, up into my arms to place him in his loft bed for a nap. He was only 4 years old at the time and still in that snuggly stage. Being silly, I had cradled him in my arms like a baby and then pressed up on my tiptoes to lift his little body over the 4ft rail of the bed. As I did, I lost my footing amidst the sea of toys scattered along his bedroom floor and found myself falling straight backward with him still in my arms.

My first thought was protecting Cody from harm, so I enveloped him tighter in my arms and did my best to brace for the nasty fall that was inevitable. Within seconds we were on the floor, and Cody still firmly bound in my arms wriggled his little arms lose, threw them up over his head and shouted with a hysterical giggle, “Touch Down!” All I could do at that moment was breathe a sigh of relief and laugh out loud as well. Thankfully, among the myriad of toys was a massive stuffed dog that broke our fall. 

What could have been a really ugly incident is now a fond memory in my heart and mind. Closing my eyes, I can still feel the soft fur of the stuffed dog under my back, the sharp edges of Legos under my feet, and the warmth of my little boy’s snuggly embrace. I can hear his giggle and feel my heart pounding as we lay there on the floor amidst the toys. So precious!

Reflecting back on that day, this is a memory I have treasured in my heart and one that has sustained my mama’s heart as my son now moves into manhood.

Gone are the days of snuggles and toys strewn everywhere. Now days are filled with a full-time job, friends, and interests of his own that don’t include mom. I get it, it’s the end result of motherhood, but my hope is that the knowledge of a fierce mama who is willing to protect him always remains in his heart and mind. I know it is in mine.

These kinds of memories are also present in the Christmas story. Yes, drastically different, and yet no less precious. 

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Mary to have the shepherds show up to see her son. I wonder if the shepherds were nervous to say, “Hey we’re here because angels popped out of the sky singing about your boy and they told us to come see him.” They probably expected Mary and Joseph to be like, “Yeah right, you’ve been hanging out with your sheep too long.” And yet, Mary and Joseph each already had their own encounters with angels in the story, so what’s a few more?

As a mom, what else could Mary do but “treasure these things and ponder them in her heart”?

Scripture tells us little of what Jesus was like growing up other than he, “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”(Luke 2:52) But he was still very much a normal child. I wonder if he was snuggly at age 4 as well? Whatever he was like, I’m certain like me and most moms, she did her best to fiercely protect him.

Oh, how these memories Mary pondered from Jesus’ birth and from the shepherd visiting them in the stable must have sustained her as her boy entered ministry and eventually made his way to the cross. 

I think most of us realize it must have been excruciatingly painful for Mary to watch her son die, but it was so much more than we understand. Yes, by the time of his death I think she understood he was the Christ but he was still her little boy. 

My guess is that only pondered memories of love, angels’ words, and shepherds’ praises could have supported her broken mama’s heart as she waited for her son to fulfill his destiny, erasing the stain of sin, defeating death, and take his place on the throne as King. 

These precious memories of Jesus’ birth became the power to sustain Mary in one of her darkest hours and give us the power to sustain us in ours as well.

It was not our son in the manger that night so long ago, but it was our Savior. So let us, like Mary, remember and ponder the events of his birth and those who came to acknowledge and worship him as Savior and King. May we do the same.



For Your Reflection…

Reflecting on the Christmas story gives me pause to reflect on my own life and the precious memories that sustain me in difficult seasons. What memories does it evoke in you? How can your memories be utilized to sustain you and give you hope?

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