Ok, so maybe I’ve been a bit tardy on this ‘Reflection’ series. I’ve had a lot more on my daily plate than I anticipated. We’ll see how this works out in the end. I was reminded in my reading of this chapter just how ungospel centered my life is, my story is. I forget so often to bring my experiences before the mercy seat of my Great High Priest, partially because I want the power and pleasure of returning evil for evil’S, but also partially because I forget my new identity in Christ – the old identity seems so comfortable at times… 

Chapter Four: Wounded Self, Healed Memories

Volf starts off this chapter by challenging his readers to consider that memory involves more than cognitive recall, but also has a deeply pragmatic side to it – memory is a form of doing. Honestly I’ve always seen memory as the slow reply sports casting kind of thing, something in our head and not in our lives. Volf took me to the pavement on this one.

In order to both understand our wounded self by the wrongdoing, and to pursue healing Volf says that getting the ‘truthfulness’ of what happened is essential. Without it we’re neither remembering rightly, or healing appropriately that which has been broken; “…neither repression nor distortion lead to genuine healing.” pg. 73. We will have taken an important step toward healing when we neither fear to face the wound of wrongdoing in memory nor feel compelled to keep returning to it, even if in a rewritten form.” pg. 75.

But it takes more than truthfulness to heal our wounded selves, it also takes integration, new identity, and new possibilities. Volf says there’s two sides to interrogating our memories: first, we integrate events into our life-story by giving them positive meaning within that story; and secondly, we await the eschatological unveiling of potential answers in God’s new world. Along with interrogation we must consider our new identity conferred by Christ to those wronged. “Instead of being defined by how human beings relate to us, we are defined by how God relates to us.” pg. 79. This new identity we have in Christ brings with it new possibilities of the future. For the Christian future possibilities don’t grow simply out of the actuality of their pasts and present, but rather from the realm of what is not yet.

Volf closes his chapter by reminding us that complete redemption of memories involves reconciliation between the victimizer and the victim. More on that latter…