Why is an anniversary so evocative? Wedding anniversaries, graduation anniversaries, job anniversaries, and the mother of all anniversaries, birthdays…why do they all bring a celebratory flare into the air we breathe?
I think it is because we commemorate something pleasant…because the memories they evoke are precious to the soul and we want to remember them…we want to keep the moment alive…we feel that if we don’t make a big deal out of the date, it is almost as if it never happened in the first place.
But what about those anniversaries that do not bring good memories? What about the anniversaries that are scary? What about those that are sad? What about the ones that don’t bring back a desire to celebrate, but rather a desire to hide, tremble or cry? What about those we do want to forget?
These are incredibly powerful too. These non-celebratory anniversaries shake us to the core. They are dreadful and keep us anxious and fearful for weeks and months in advance as we see them approach. As the days go by and the dreaded one gets closer we toss and turn at night, and fidget all through the waking hours without being able to get them out of our minds. We walk about like zombies, unable to concentrate on the tasks at hand. And no matter how menial the job, we inevitably end up with a headache and sweaty palms.
As it happens, Memorial Day weekend marks the anniversary of a few traumatic events in my personal and family life. One of them was discovering a lump in my thyroid which ended up being malignant. This added to the other fateful events that have fallen on Memorial Day weekend turn the holiday into a dreaded event. I see the date get closer and I shiver…
My dearest friend Indira put it this way when referring to her own non-celebratory anniversary: “Anxiety? Of course! …it is the anniversary of a tragedy… you can't erase it because you have the visible scars to remind you of the aftermath. Then there is the “what if,” the dreaded what if. So we turn to our faith, put it all in God’s hands…we pause, act and move on.”
Do what we have to do
I am working on the “letting go” part. I have not been able to totally “move on” yet…and that’s what’s frustrating. I don’t want to exhibit lack of trust…but I still become nervous and allow the “what ifs” to torment my soul.
That’s why I must continue to surround myself with all things Christ, especially when tragic anniversaries come around. I need to remember that this world is not my home. Everything here is temporary and my goal is to get to the place above where I will finally be with God…like Paul commands us:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3: 1-3
I love this passage because, if you read it carefully, you’ll see how Paul reminds us that all these things, even though they seem like future events, have already happened from God’s perspective. We are already there…therefore, our current trials and problems truly are momentary…just for a little while longer…
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4: 17
This dreaded weekend, therefore, I pray I do hang on to this truth revealed in the Word and truly begin to let go.