I rarely read Christian fiction. However, occasionally I do so in the summer. It’s a great way to relax. When we went to visit Donna’s parents in Pennsylvania in early June I read a novel entitled Remember by Karen Kingsbury. It’s part of a series called “Redemption.” The book cover explains the series this way: “Novelist Karen Kingsbury and relationship expert Gary Smalley have teamed up to bring you an inspiring series of stories that explores the relationship principles Gary has been teaching for more than thirty years.”
Biblical truth can be taught in many ways. Kingsbury’s five-novel Redemption series teaches God’s truth, especially about interpersonal relationships, through fiction. The series is the story of the Baxters, a modern-day Christian family in Bloomington, Indiana. The family has five young adult children who face the usual ups and downs of life. Depending on your age and gender, you’ll probably identify with one of the characters more than the others. For me it was Dr. John Baxter, the father of five young adults and the grandfather of several small grandchildren.
Knowing that I work daily with people with dementia, a wise missionary friend suggested I read Remember to get a glimpse of one way to relate to these dear folks. In Remember, Ashley, one of the Baxters’ daughters, gets a job in a home for the elderly and stumbles upon a method that really helps Alzheimer’s patients deal with life. Psychologists call it “validation.” It recognizes and validates the resident’s view of life and circumstances, even if it is not directly in touch with present reality.
For example, in the novel Irvel was an elderly widow at the home where Ashley worked. Irvel’s life was centered on the sweetness and attention her deceased husband had given her. He’d always treated her as a special gift in his life and took time to make her know that. In the present circumstances, Irvel kept indicating that her husband was going to be coming to the home for a visit later that day. Obviously, that was impossible, but it was the promise of attention which gave her hope and kept her going. So instead of saying, “He’s dead; he cannot be coming over,” Ashley learned to ask Irvel questions about her husband, what he’d done for her in the past, and so forth. It was a way of reliving the good times positively, instead of declaring the impossibility of today’s reality. (This kind of validation might not work or be wise in certain cases, but I’ve found it does in many.)
What’s the significance of the title of the book?
I would explain it this way: God has given us a mind that can REMEMBER the past. Our memory can work against us if we allow the Great Accuser to bring up certain things from our past, but our memory can also be a source of great blessing. For example, in times of difficulty, we can remember how God has helped us in the past – this will increase our faith for the present and the future. In times of coolness in our marriage, we can remember what attracted us to our wife or husband in the first place. In times of discouragement or spiritual depression, we can say with the Psalmist: “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” (Ps. 42:6)