We want to forget the pains of the past—our personal, communal, and national traumas—and live as if they did not really happen. But by not remembering them we allow the forgotten memories to become independent forces that can exert a crippling effect on our functioning as human beings. When this happens, we become strangers to ourselves because we cut down our own history to a pleasant, comfortable size and try to make it conform to our own daydreams. Forgetting the past is like turning our most intimate teacher against us. By refusing to face our painful memories we miss the opportunity to change our hearts and grow mature in repentance. When Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick” (Mark 2:17), He affirms that only those who face their wounded condition can be available for healing and so enter into a new way of living.
-Henri Nouwen, The Living Reminder