The week preceding my mother’s funeral is a blur except for one moment. As my sister and I discussed the days leading up to the service, she remarked how she would be getting a tattoo in memory of our mother. “You’re getting a tattoo?” I inquired. “Yes! All of us decided that this would be a good way to remember Mom.” She then gleefully recounted how each of my siblings was getting memorial ink. They would all be going to the tattoo parlour together.
I felt heartbroken and rejected. See, this was the first time I was hearing of this. Even though I have a tattoo myself, I wasn’t included in this act of sibling togetherness. My mother had four children, yet only three appointments were made. I was forgotten. I won’t lie, it took me a long while to get over this hurt.
The word “forget” means to cease having something (or someone) in mind. It is to deny something’s presence or influence. Forgetting is not merely a lack of acknowledgement, it is the complete absence of awareness or concern. The forgotten cease to exist for us. Go ahead, name something you have forgotten?
It is heartbreaking when we feel forgotten by family or loved ones. One of the most painful questions found in scripture is when God asks, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast, and have no compassion on the child she has born?” (Isaiah 49:15) Sadly, we know the answer, and because we know this uncomfortable truth, we may be tempted to believe that God, also, forgets us from time to time.
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever believed yourself to be completely outside God’s frame of reference in the world? Have you ever felt invisible to God?
Such feelings can be rooted in a myriad of things. The good news, however, is that God never forgets us. The passage quoted above finishes with this life-giving affirmation: “Though she may forget you, I will never forget you.” God affirms God’s everlasting attention towards us. As people created in God’s image and redeemed in God’s love, we are never outside God’s compassion or concern. God’s heart, God’s mind, and God’s eye are continually upon us; God constantly meditates on our presence.
Now, it’s one thing to assert this truth, it’s another thing to feel it. The question that often plagues us is, how can we know that we are never forgotten? How can we know beyond a doubt that God’s gaze is continually directed towards us? Happily, God answer this dilemma in the very next verse. As an expression of God’s loving concern, God says “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands” (43:16). What God said in the Old Testament was proved in the new: The cross illustrates that we are not forgotten. When Jesus died on the cross, he had you in mind.
We often think about the cross in grandiose ways, which is appropriate. Jesus’ death on the cross changed the very fabric of life. The cross has cosmic significance. Yet, the grandness of the cross doesn’t take away from its intimacy. That which is most universal is also the most personal. That which stretches over each person is also that which lies in the deepest places of our lives. It is because the cross heralds God’s love to all people, that we can recognize the pronouncement of God’s love to us. Christ’s nail pierced hands show his eternal memory of you.
Take a moment and listen to these words again. “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.” Allow these words to sink into you. Repeat the words as you take a deep breath in, imagining the truth flowing into the deepest part of yourself. As you exhale, release any doubt, or fear you may have. Just 5 minutes spent in this practice can transform our lives.
Today, my siblings and I have a good relationship. I bear no animosity or grudge against them. Part of the reason I have I been able to forgive them is because I know I am remembered by God. This is the foundation of my life, and the solid basis for which I stand.
When we know that we stand within gaze of the Lord, with his love surrounding us each day, all the “forgottens” of this life simply fade away.