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OUT TO PASTOR: The key to life is forgetting the right things

The thing that has concerned me as I have aged is about forgetting things.

In this regard, there is no comparison between The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself. 

I have a problem remembering, and her problem is forgetting. She can’t forget anything. She remembers things that I don’t think ever happened.

My concern has always been that I would forget things I needed to remember – like forgetting the names of people, especially relatives. I can never figure out why some people have such weird names, hard to remember.

Thinking about this, something came to mind. 

When I was younger, I forgot a lot of things but all that forgetting did not keep me from growing older. In fact, I forgot some stuff on purpose just to get out of some jam.

I began to think that forgetting may result from something other than getting old. Maybe forgetting is a way of dealing with some of the issues of life.

In thinking about this, I have concluded that the key to a good life is knowing what to forget and what to remember.

I’ve been trying to develop the art of forgetting in my life – if I know what to forget, my life will be better.

Number one on my list of not forgetting is The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. That is the hard one. I must remember all of the right things regarding her and forget all the other things.

When we started our matrimonial journey, I had no idea about this. My idea was to get along, just go along. That works with some people, but it doesn’t seem to work with me.

I had to make a list of things to forget and then a list of things to remember.

The list of things to remember is pretty long, including her birthday, our anniversary, our children’s birthdays and their anniversaries, and our grandchildren’s birthdays. Along with that list are the names of all of those people.

If I had charge of things, which I don’t, I would tattoo the names of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on their foreheads along with their birthday. That sure would help me a lot.

Another thing on the list to remember was everything she’s said to me.

I can’t tell you how many times she has asked, “Don’t you remember what I said yesterday?”

Now, the problem with that question is that she said SO MUCH yesterday it is tough for me to remember anything she said yesterday.

My list of things to remember gets longer every year.

But the things to forget could be even longer. I sometimes get the two lists confused, and boy, do I get into trouble.

It boils down to this: I must always remember every time she is right – but then also must forget every time she is wrong.

I must keep alert when we are with some friends because somewhere along the conversation, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage will say, “My dear, do you remember…?” When that happens, I know that my sanity is on the line.

Or, another question would be, “My dear, remember our vacation last year?” With a great smile, I will respond by saying, “Oh yes I do. It was the best planned vacation we ever had.”

I’m all right for the rest of the evening if I can get away with that because she really doesn’t want me to tell about the vacation – just to go along with her idea of that vacation.

The biggest challenge I have is to forget every time she is wrong. I don’t know what it is about me, but these things I can never forget. She’s not wrong often, but when she is, I take great delight in that. I can’t reveal my delight to her in any fashion, but it’s there.

Maybe I cannot forget them, but I am developing the discipline not to bring them up in any conversation. Sometimes, I want to bring one up just to take advantage of a situation, but thinking of that, I really do love living.

Knowing what to forget and what to remember has been an important key in my life. The big problem here is that I have a hard time choosing what to remember and what to forget.

I couldn’t help but think of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-15,

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Forgetting the right things makes room for me to remember the right things. If I’m going to press forward in my life I must forget some things in the past.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

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