Elephants are one of my favorite animals. I think they are beautiful and amazing creatures. I understand ‘elephants never forget.’ Exactly what do they never forget? Apparently they never forget most things in their up-to 60 year lifespan. Their memory is their key to survival.
Elephants’ superb memories help them stay alive in ways that go beyond just recognizing threats. Females that come from desert climates can remember where reliable water can be found and are able to guide their herds to water over very long distances, and over the span of many years. This is a pretty clear indication that elephants have a great ability to remember details about their spatial environment for a very long time.
They also remember each other. I read a story recently of an elephant named Jenny that became very animated when a new elephant named Shirley arrived. After the caretakers looked into the animals’ backgrounds, they discovered the two had performed with the same circus for only a few months—22 years earlier. Amazing.
Recently, I have been reminded of two incidents where family members have ‘remembered’ something I did or did not do many, many years ago. One was about my reasons for running away as a young girl and the other about when I was asked for help and did not. I have few regrets in life, however, being reminded of incidents I have no personal memory of makes me wonder what else others’ remember that I may have forgotten. I wondered how many times these memories came to my family members and how often they were saddened by them. I am saddened to know they held these memories in their hearts for so many years. For all I know, there may be more.
Sometimes I try to edit the things I find disappointing in life – apparently especially my disappointments to others. I choose to remember the good times and the good things I have experienced, but I know others may remember an event I have long forgotten, but wish I could have done differently or said I was sorry for. I may have been a troubled younger person and made mistakes, but am hoping I am a better older person and making less mistakes.
The Bible tells me God remembers things. He remembers His covenant with His children, His promises to care for us, that we are weak, all the times we tried so hard, all the times we did do the right things, when prayers need answered, He remembers how He loves us, everything about us – even the number of hairs on our heads and what makes us happy and more.
God encourages us to remember things too – how He saved us each time we asked, the miracles He did for us, His Word and promises, His sacrifice, His love, His commandments, the poor and others, our past and bondage, how hard families worked to make it and give us life, the ones who loved and cared for us and still do, and more.
God, however, does not remember everything. He never remembers our forgiven sin, our mistakes, our bad days, or when we were disappointing. And for this I am grateful. I want to forget the wrongs done to me too and hope those that I have wronged can forgive me and remember the better things.
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