‘Remembering’ Can Help Lessen Fear of Change

‘Remembering’ Can Help Lessen Fear of Change

Jim Stinson, Former Consultant on Older Adult Ministries


One of the realities of aging is there tends to be more time to reflect and remember than there was when we were younger and busy “building our lives.” Many a conversation with older adults begins with, “I remember when . . .” The supposition often is that we do so, in part, to “wish things were as they used to be.” In such a supposition, we too often miss the importance of remembering or reminiscing. The importance is that it can be a way of assessing the meaning of our lives thus far, and can enable the one remembering to note the lessons life has taught him or her.

These lessons are often ones of inner strength, deepening faith, the ability to cope with unwanted and unanticipated changes that are part and parcel of every life. Remembering often strengthens us not to fear the changes of life, but to embrace them. Doing so allows us to take the next steps in life’s journey with less fear and with more anticipation.

Franklin Roosevelt caught a fearful nation’s attention at his first inauguration as the president when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He set the stage for a tumultuous time, including the onset of world war and the many social changes that were coming, knowing there was danger and inertia inherent in living in fear of the present or the future. Humans possess a wealth of tools and the ability to adapt and change. One such tool is the gift of memory, especially if we allow it to enable us to face the future with less fear and more anticipation.

As those who minister with and for older adults, we do well to open opportunities for them to reminisce with those who have heard other words that would encourage them to keep on the journey.

“Fear not for I am always with you.”

“Even though I walk through the valley of death I fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Such is the continuing call to go make of all disciples. Growing and encouraging faithful and, fearless disciples does not suggest we do so only of ‘those between the ages of . . .’ It is an all inclusive call and direction. Helping people to remember who they are and where they have been, and who they can still be, is part of the task of making disciples who fear not because they do not forget, “Fear not.”