The title of this post was inspired by the “right to be forgotten” enforced in the European Union, which basically asserts the right to have private information expunged from internet searches. This blog isn’t about internet security or privacy, but I’ve been pondering what it means to be forgotten and remembered. It makes sense that we’d want to suppress sensitive, especially damning, information about ourselves, especially if events happened long ago and we’ve repented / changed (or perhaps we were victims, and not perpetrators) — in some instances, there should be a statute of limitations on what can be recalled.

So let’s talk about remembering and our deep, natural human desire to be remembered. My view of this was shaped by my childhood. My mother neglected me: she took care of all my basic needs, but she never played with me. I was an only child and was very lonely (before I was school-aged, I spent most days alone playing in the living room), so I did a lot of things to get her attention. For example, one day, I decided to open the refrigerator and drop all the raw eggs on the floor.

This is how I learned that if I didn’t actively draw attention to myself, no one would remember me.

So my deep desire to be remembered and my corresponding deep fear of being forgotten have shaped my personality. I’m naturally an extrovert and enjoy being a connector of friends. However, the dark side is the need to be the center of attention. This manifests in needing to be high achieving (hence being obsessed with having a perfect GPA in school), being pointedly, publicly and provocatively opinionated and principled (whether in word, speech or deed), and being in contact with a lot of people at all times (social media is certain a huge enabler of this). A lot of what I do screams, “Look at meeeee!!!”

As a result, my personality has developed these sharp edges, especially from the drive to be noticeably opinionated (no one would ever accuse me of being bland or milquetoast), but to the point where it can repel and intimidate. I know that’s not good at all. Ironically, these sharp edges work directly against my desire is to be remembered and cherished by a beloved few.

Also, working against me in the past was how thinly I spread myself across friends — I’ve been invited to 150-200 weddings over my lifetime, but only asked to be in the bridal party for four. I’m sure the vanity around trying to draw attention to myself isn’t attractive either!

Underlying all of this is the nagging sense that if I don’t remind people I exist, I’ll be forgotten. That’s the terror in my soul. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s probably why I bawled when I watched the Disney movie Coco (amazing how Disney could make animated skeletons cute!).

I’m realizing I’m super tired of reminding people that I’m here. I want God to help me to know that He remembers me and that I don’t have to bug Him. I also want to trust in my good friends that they’ll remember me even if I don’t throw myself in front of them.

The thing is, we all get busy with life, and it’s not possible to remember all our loved ones, all the time. There are also seasons where we intentionally must focus and set aside a lot of our relationships for a time. I personally need to do a better job at remembering my friends and family.

God is beginning to help me to remember all the times He’s worked in someone’s heart to reach out to me out of the blue — after months, and sometimes years, and at the right time. One story that stands out to me in Scripture is Joseph and the cupbearer. The cupbearer only remembered Joseph a couple of years after he met Joseph in prison, when Pharaoh had the dreams from God and asked for an interpreter. I just have to assume that the timing was divine, although that Joseph was probably frustrated that the cupbearer hadn’t remembered him sooner.

These stories from my life and Scripture are good reminders that God doesn’t ever forget us, and we don’t have to “work” to win His affection or attention.