Healing of Memories or
Healing from Bad Memories?


Help When You

Do Not Want to Remember

Help With Unwanted Memories

By Grantley Morris


Suppressed Memories


Unwanted Memories

A woman approached me with a prayer request: “I want to heal without recalling all of the memories.”

Ironically – but not surprisingly – this woman suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities), the very cause of which is not wanting to remember traumatic events. So her prayer request makes as much sense as praying, “Lord, I don’t want to be separated from my husband but I want nothing more to do with him.” Some things are logical impossibilities – absurdities that not even God can do.

This webpage is not for those with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Many people have this condition without realizing it, but if you know you have it, please immediately go to a page that includes everything below and much more of special relevance to D.I.D: How to Speed Healing.

We all understand where this dear woman is coming from. Suppressed memories can return with a vengeance in the form of flashbacks that are as vivid and traumatic as the original horror. No one would want that. We need deliverance from all guilt, fear and torment associated with memories, but this is not the same as losing those memories.

What this woman has not yet grasped is that her continued inability to remember unpleasant events would actually be a tragedy, not a blessing. There are several sides to this, so it will take a few paragraphs to explain.

To run from memories would be to cave into false feelings of shame, fear or inability to cope. It would be to languish in needless defeat. That’s not God’s plan for you. Christ took all your shame, blame and pain, bearing it all in his own naked, tortured body so that you can lift your head high. Through Christ, you are a winner; not one who runs away, but a hero clothed with divine majesty in God’s royal family.

Our walk with Christ is about love, adventure and glory. It’s not about escapism, wasting one’s life and trashing opportunities for greatness. It has no partnership with cowardice and the eternal regret it brings. We might be born failures but through Christ we are transformed; born anew for achievement, heroism and honor. God has astounding faith in what you can do empowered by him. You are called to jettison shame, defeatism and self-indulgence to enter into holy union with the all-powerful Conqueror and, thus endowed, to reign with him in regal splendor:

    2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him . . . (KJV).

    Romans 8:17  . . . we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    Revelation 3:2 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Don’t dare dishonor the Lord of glory by thinking this is beyond you. For Christ, who has invested the last drop of his blood into ensuring your success, impossibilities are playthings. You are one with the Almighty Lord. You are in him and he is in you; melded together in the most thrilling of unions.

Furthermore, even if full healing without recovery of memories were neither irrational, nor a needless defeat, it would render much of your past agony a useless waste. You are passionately loved of God; the darling of his heart. He is far too devoted to you to want you to undergo such a tragic loss. Instead, his plan is to transform your past suffering into something that exalts you to eternal heights of glory like nothing else could ever achieve. His goal is not to destroy your memories but to heal your memories so that they no longer distress you and so that your past suffering becomes something uniquely valuable. Remembering your past will not only enable you to better comprehend the love of God but will equip you with the ability to minister with unique experience and conviction to other hurting people. This is the path to eternal glory.

Astoundingly, not even the Eternal Son of God, the Infinite Lord of Glory, could be granted the authority to fulfill the exalted role of Ultimate High Priest without his familiarity with, and memory of, his own suffering (for a short explanation, see The Unexpected Value of Ugly Memories).

Someone who finds study highly taxing devotes year after arduous year to medical studies. Finally he qualifies as a doctor. Now all the hard work is behind him and at last he can truly help people, save lives and reap all the benefits of his study. Can you imagine him rendering all his efforts a useless waste by praying to forget everything he has learned?

We don’t need more self-proclaimed experts who trample on other people’s feelings; arrogant theorizers exposing themselves to the wrath of God by ignorantly thinking they are helping when they are devastating people who are already writhing in inner agony. The world is filled with – in fact has had its fill of – such people. What are as rare as diamonds, however, are people who truly understand; people whose advice does not come from a book or vain imagination but from genuine experience; leaders who, like Jesus, can say, “I’ve been there – follow me.” You’ve endured what it takes to qualify as one of those rare and valued people who truly know. Now, with almost all the sweat and tears behind you, will you throw it all away by praying to forget it all?

The great apostle Paul seems to have suffered no loss of memory when reeling off the precise number and ways in which he was tortured:

    2 Corinthians 11:24-25 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea . . .

In fact, he seems to have seen his suffering as something to boast about:

    2 Corinthians 11:23, 12:1 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. . . . I must go on boasting. . . .


A Less Distressing Way of Coping with Nightmares, Flashbacks & Ugly Memories

Nightmares and flashbacks are the mind’s way of recoiling against attempts to suppress memories that need to be resolved. Burying matters is like ignoring wounds that will only become infected and worsen if left untreated: they will get harder and harder to ignore. It is far better to be preemptive and deliberately face the memories, rather than for them to surface involuntarily in a nightmare or flashback, when it seems not merely like a memory but as if one were actually reliving it and one has little conscious control over what happens, and little chance of analyzing it rationally.

A friend of mine uses some creative ways of desensitizing herself to memories and reaffirming that they are over. She writes:

    I go over memories with Jesus. At times, I deliberately imagine watching the memory in a picture frame that has PAST written on the top of it. I sometimes flick the memory back and forth between color and black and white. Such techniques help remove me from the event so that I am no longer reliving the experience (which happens in a flashback) and limited to the thoughts and feelings I had back at that point of time. Instead, I find myself able to re-evaluate a memory; analyzing it more as a mature, compassionate observer than as a helpless participant. Occasionally, I play the memory backward very fast in the picture frame and then remember the more peaceful or confident way I felt before the bad event happened. That helps me see the impact the event had on me.

    I can get so caught up in a memory that I do too much in one session. Sometimes I set a timer for 15 minutes. That helps bring me back to the present. When things become too overwhelming, I stop and move to simpler matters. I try to work on memories as they come up, rather than pushing myself by trying to dredge up memories.

    Often, I work on only one memory at a time. If it is a particularly difficult memory, I might talk with Jesus about it throughout the week but reserve actually reliving it to only once or twice a week and just a little at a time. Sometimes, working with Jesus on a distressing memory takes months. Often, the memory affects how I feel about myself, how I think of others and how I see the world around me. It can take quite a while to process all of this and view myself and the memory differently.

Jesus encouraged another woman to look at memories ‘through’ Jesus. She imagines him as being translucent and views the memories through his body, and the pain coming from the memory hits him (which he is very willing to take) rather than reaching her.

The Lord treats each of us uniquely but the following is common among those who nurture the habit of talking things over with Jesus:

    Questions often come to me. It is Jesus wanting to get me thinking about a memory, rather than merely react to it emotionally. Sometimes, I wish Jesus would simply tell me how to think, rather than leaving it to me to put in the effort. In my saner moments, however, I know he chooses the most effective way to reach me.

    As I persist in puzzling over Jesus’ questions, I begin to see horrors of former years in a way that lifts my shame and gives me dignity. It empowers me, so that I move further and further from seeing myself as a helpless victim, doomed to never-ending tragedies, to realizing heaven sees me as someone with a proven track record of overcoming seemingly impossible situations. Memories I had once wished I could forever obliterate from my mind become medals of honor that spur me to still more glory.


Thanks for the Memories?

We should look to God for guilt, shame and fear to end. They can become attached to memories and become sources of inner pain and enemies of peace and fulfillment. When these negatives are removed, however, even the most unpleasant memories become blessings empowering us for greatness.


Related Pages

Living in Denial: A Christian Perspective

Help With Ugly Memories & Flashbacks

How to Cope with Nightmares & Unwanted Dreams

Comfort, Understanding & Healing for Abuse Survivors

Personalized support
Grantley Morris: healing@net-burst.net

© 2012, 2019 Grantley Morris.  May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage.  Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.

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