It would be fun to be able to compare how much one remembers now versus in the day of what another said to you. In my case, there are two extremes. First, those I did not get along with. When I think back across the decades, it is hard to recall what we spent too much time debating. I remember a few snippets, but nothing particularly negative.
The second comparison would be with the friends and family who were a positive part of my life. I do not think I remember more of what they said than I did then. I am confident that I remember what they said more often! It is as if they have become imaginary coaches and mentors. Their words push and call me to account, remind me of hope, and gift me with courage.
I suspect many would be surprised at the time. I never seemed to listen to them. Advice and suggestions frequently started with a reminder of the benefits you get and the respect you pay when you listen to others. At the time, I was so confident that I was. When I look back and see how my intent was honorable, I wish I had listened exclusively.
The impact of words, thoughts, and ideas lasted longer than many of the individuals. A physics professor willing to tutor me in 7th grade math answered every question I put out there, even when they had nothing to do with math! A principal dealing with a rebellious student took his time in my timeout to patiently instruct me in the nuances of chess. A grandfather who shared the art of giving others respect while waiting for doubts about their integrity to clear.
As I listen and respond to others who remind me of myself then, I find myself wishing I could go back and say thank-you. I hope they knew then what I know now. The psalmist words still ring true; “Remember what you said to me, your servant – I hang on to these words for dear life!” (Psalm 119.49)