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From Memory to Imagination Part 2


Following his usual routine, a man buys his morning paper and starts out the shop door for work.  He never makes it.  Instead he finds himself being checked over in hospital. Finding nothing physically wrong, he takes himself off to see the counsellor who is helping him with his loss.

Believing there to be a stimulus to the man’s experience, he was asked to describe the last thing he saw, heard or smelt!  The man stared at his counsellor and said ‘My wife’s perfume.’

The stimulus that triggered this experience was a memory!

  • As men we all have the capacity to remember.
  • The amygdala processes fear based memories
  • The amygdala is larger in us men than women
  • The amygdala never forgets a fearful moment!

The man’s present directly affected by a past trauma, via a memory! 

A railway worker in the USA was working his shift, checking some refrigerated cars, when he accidentally got locked in one. It was something he’d always feared might happen.  It would be hours before the next shift clocked on and found him.  Although there was enough oxygen the man knew he would freeze to death if he didn’t get out.

Sadly, the next day that’s how they found him, with a note by his side.

  • Those who found him were amazed that his body displayed signs of being exposed to severe cold and yet the railway car was not coupled to any power.
  • In fact the refrigeration unit was off!
  • Also the outside temperature was in the 70’s!

Imagination had a massive effect.

Our bodies do not understand the different between a perceived thought and a real one; it simply begins to interact with the image we have mentally decided to focus on!  Memory and Imagination are strong forces and will ‘influence and affect’ our masculine hearts and souls and the potential Father has placed there.

Why do we need to move from memory to imagination?

Deciding to move from Mem 2 Imag is a Catalyst for change 

The power to change our present circumstances and create future new contexts is forfeited if we do not know how to move from memory to imagination.  Both are powers that directly affect our present, like the man in the first story and our future, like the rail car man.

Memory is limited & often its look & language is past based & tensed.

One thing I have learnt and am applying to my life and relationship with God as a Father is this: He often enters our today speaking language and sharing images from our tomorrow!  The classic ‘son on the receiving end of this kind of Father Stuff’ is Gideon.  See Judges 6 esp v 15

God addresses Gideon as a mighty warrior but Gideon is stuck in a memory and his imagination is seized up!

It might seem that God is playing mind games with his son and He is!  His Father is after Gideon’s ability to imagine a context change and a different tomorrow.  Father’s language is not past but future, not why this but why not.  It would be years later but the sentiment would be used by  JFK –

If not us, who if not now when?

As men we can fail at times, to activate what we have been given and begin to see  change, instead we just complain.  If we have developed a habit of complaining can I challenge that habit with this thought and encourage you to really think about this truth –

Our complaining is a sign that we believe something better exists!

  • I am tired of x and y.
  • Something ought to be done about a and b
  • Someone needs to take action and change the status quo

These statements are signs that we do believe that ‘better’ exists!

Gideon was a complainer who, by His Father help, turned the energy of complaint into power that decided upon change.

The catalyst was adopting and focusing on the ‘tomorrow image’ of the Father and making the decision to leave the generationally ‘learnt hopelessness memory’ he‘d been living and wallowing in! v 15

  • Strong words & medicine I know.
  • However, truth often makes us angry before it liberates us!
  • I didn’t like its taste but I love its affect

Memory can be like a straight jacket to our life, potential, capacity and abilities, its power can keep us bound and hold us back. Like the jacket, memory can cover our hearts and tie up our hands, and it’s with our hearts that we imagine and dream and with our hands we work to make the dream a reality.

  • We have the power to begin to change where we are and how it is.
  • Why, as men, would we not desire to change the circumstances & the context we are in?
  • Why not use what we’ve been given to break with the past & move into new futures: for us, our families, others?

The Father asks us to love Him with all we are and have, including our imaginations and He is more than able and willing to release His exceeding abundant power and provision into our circumstances. However,   His power and provision are conditionally tied into the use of our imagination –

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph 3:20

Without Him we cannot, without us He will not!

St Augustine, Early Church father