Earlier this week I decided it was time to clear out my email inbox. With the number of emails I receive for church work, denominational responsibilities, and personal contacts, I tend to read them and move on without deleting them.

When my total inbox count reached over 3,000, I decided it was time to clear out the old “stuff.” I didn’t want to simply trash everything for fear I would delete something important. I began the long, arduous task of deleting one by one. 

When I got to emails from January 2018 I was especially glad I did not simply dump everything into the trash, because I came across emails from my brother containing photos of our childhood. Photos of grandparents, parents and siblings brought memories flooding back. 

It was a delightful trip down Memory Lane. During the journey through time I also reflected on the ways those people and times influenced who I am today (for good or for ill). 

It can be way too easy to keep moving forward in life without reflecting on how we arrived where we are as individuals. Who were the key figures? What were significant events? What lessons — both painful and joyful ones — were learned? 

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When we go along the path of life without looking at the significant people and events, we lose a great deal. 

The season of Lent is the time designated for personal examination. What has gone well? What has not gone well? To whom have we given great joy? To whom have we caused pain? 

It is right and good to give thanks to God for the joyful and positive parts of our lives. It is also right and good to give thanks for the less than joyful times, because when we look at them through the lens of faith, we can open ourselves to seeking and giving forgiveness. 

We can give thanks to God for being present during all aspects of our lives, for helping us through the challenges and for learning from our mistakes. We can give thanks for receiving strength from painful memories as well as for the lightness of heart for the joyful memories. 

I invite you to continue to reflect on your life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the joyful. Give thanks to God for it all. Through the eyes of faith you will find the good in each situation.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.